06/12/2008 12:00AM

Oakland Cap launching pad to summer


ALBANY, Calif. - There are bigger things awaiting Black Seventeen, Bonfante, and Vicarino, but Saturday's $75,000 Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields is the immediate target.

For Vicarino and Bonfante, solid races could take them to Florida for the Grade 2, $400,000 Smile Handicap at Calder's Summit of Speed on July 12. For Black Seventeen, making his first start since winning last year's Grade 2 Carry Back at the Summit of Speed, the Oakland is a stepping-stone to the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on July 26.

Referring to the Smile, Vicarino's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, said, "If he wins, we'd definitely consider going."

Vicarino has won 6 of 10 starts and has finished off the board only once. He has been matched against the speedy Tribesman in recent Northern California races and has had to move early to keep Tribesman from stealing the race.

There is plenty of speed again on Saturday, with Black Seventeen, Britt's Jules, and Magic Texan in the field. With that much speed, Vicarino may not have to gun so early to keep the leaders honest.

Vicarino has the added advantage of having drawn outside the speed, which gives jockey Russell Baze a tactical advantage.

Black Seventeen has "one way to go," said trainer Brian Koriner. He won three straight sprints, including the Carry Back, in wire-to-wire style after setting the pace and fading in the Santa Anita Derby last year.

"This wasn't the spot we wanted, but he's a big, lazy work horse, and there's nothing down here for him," Koriner said from Hollywood Park after entries were drawn. "We'd like to get him ready for the Vanderbilt at Saratoga."

Despite Black Seventeen's strong works, Koriner has questions about the 4-year-old colt's condition in a tough spot like this.

Bonfante lost a shoe at the start of his fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park in his last start May 10. He will sit back and roll late, as he did winning two stakes at Bay Meadows this spring.

He won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Sprint after a suicide duel between Tribesman and Vicarino, and then rallied strongly to win the California Sprint Championship on the turf.

"He's just a nice, honest horse," Bonfante's trainer, Ron McAnally, said. "We know what's out there, but we just take it one race at a time."