09/28/2004 11:00PM

Mitchell remains confident

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Fate often plays a role in racing, and it is a major reason why Murano will run in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Murano was sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, his first start after being claimed for $62,500 by trainer Mike Mitchell on Aug. 14.

"The only reason I took him was I'd lost so many [to claims], I was looking for someone to claim," Mitchell said. "That claiming race looked interesting, and I didn't have any grass horses that could go that long. I filled out a claim form but didn't put a name on it. I wanted to look and see if there was a horse whose looks I really liked. He had a nice, racy look about him."

Mitchell wins 33 percent of the time first off the claim, and he said Murano's race in the Del Mar Handicap, under jockey Javier Santiago, was better than it looked.

"He had a lot of trouble in that race," Mitchell said. "When he started moving, [Santiago] had a chance to go outside, but he dropped to the rail trying to save ground and he had no place to go for more than an eighth of a mile. When he started moving, you don't want to get him in trouble so he can't continue running."

Murano won the day Mitchell claimed him, but had been 0 for 9 in the United States before that.

"For a buck fifty, it seems like a good spot to be," said Mitchell of Saturday's race. Because he is Breeders' Cup eligible, Murano will run for the full $150,000 purse.

"I don't think I'm shooting high at all," he said. "It seems like the horse fits in. He's training well. The only thing I'm hoping for is a little speed in the race."

Night Patrol should be able to make the lead in what could be a six-horse field.

* Chance Rollins begins a five-day suspension Friday for what the stewards said was "failure to make a proper effort to maintain a straight course and causing interference in the stretch" aboard Brite Lassie in the second race Sept. 24.

* Chad Schvaneveldt's plans to return to riding soon were put on hold when he was hospitalized Monday with another attack of pancreatitis. Schvaneveldt had also been hospitalized in early September.

* Five 3-year-old sprinters meet in Friday's feature, which will be run as the first race on the card. Sloat Blvd. is seeking his fifth straight win and draws the outside post. His task won't be easy with Jeffries Bay, Blairs Roarin Star, and stakes winner P Town John in the $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs. Kool Suggestion, the only colt without early speed, could benefit from a fast pace.