05/25/2008 11:00PM

McCann's Mojave wins Berkeley impressively

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ALBANY, Calif. – McCann’s Mojave ($8.20) got a perfect trip and pulled away in the lane for an impressive victory in the Grade 3 $150,000 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Monday.

McCann’s Mojave, who bled badly and finished last in last year’s Berkeley after he had moved to the front, sat in third behind dueling favorite Desert Code and Our Partner during the early running. He ranged three wide approaching the quarter pole, gobbling up the two leaders and pulling clear for a 3½-length victory over the favored Desert Code in the 1 1/16-mile race. The winning time was 1:43.06.

Desert Code drifted out late in the stretch and bumped Pass the Heat but survived an inquiry to retain second with Pass the Heat finishing third another one-half length back.

The race played out exactly as McCann’s Mojave’s trainer, Steve Specht, had hoped as the 8-year-old horse sat in a perfect stalking position.

“That was so sweet, just the way we planned it this morning,” winning jockey Frank Alvarado said. “At the three-eighths pole, I was thinking, ‘I’m looking so good right now.’ He moved so easy, I didn’t ask him until the three-sixteenths.”

Richard Migliore, who rode Desert Code, said his horse relaxed nicely despite the pace duel.

“Hats off to the winner, he was the best horse today,” he said. “I know McCann’s Mojave, and he’s a nice horse. When I looked at his works, I knew he was primed for this race. He ran a big race, and my horse ran well too.”

McCann’s Mojave, an 8-year-old horse by Memo, earned $90,000 for owner Mike Willman, increasing his career earnings to $1,468,565 with his 12th victory in 34 starts. He is 3-for-5 with a second at Golden Gate Fields.

“He just has a beautiful stride and loves this racetrack,” Specht said.