01/26/2006 1:00AM

Pesci intends to root hard for Home Alona

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Valentine Dancer is close to becoming the richest California-bred female.

Academy Award-winning actor Joe Pesci will be on hand at Gulfstream Park on Saturday to watch his aptly named 3-year-old filly Home Alona run in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks.

Pesci, best known for his performances in the movies "Goodfellas," "Casino," "My Cousin Vinny," and "Home Alone," owns Home Alona in partnership with trainer Wesley Ward. Pesci has been wintering in Boca Raton, about 30 minutes from the track, and has already been out to the new Gulfstream Park several times this season.

"He loves the races," Ward said Thursday. "You couldn't keep him away when his filly is running."

won her only start, rallying to a two-length victory at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 8.

"She had shins early on, but she's a very talented filly who won her first start with speed to spare and has outworked some very good horses in my barn since that race," said Ward. "I was hoping to get another race into her before the Oaks, but I couldn't get a first-level allowance race for Cal-breds to go at Santa Anita for the last two months."

Ward has five horses in training for Pesci, all stabled in California. He also has 16 2-year-olds in training at Palm Beach Downs and another 15 runners wintered at Palm Meadows training center.

Pesci will hopefully have better luck on Saturday with Home Alona than he had here two years ago when he ran his namesake, the then undefeated 4-year-old filly Pesci, in the Sunshine Millions Distaff. She finished a tiring ninth and was later discovered to have suffered a serious eye injury during the race.

Pesci the horse is in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus and is scheduled to drop her first foal "any day now," according to Ward.

Return of the Magna 5

The Magna 5, a weekly $2 bet that requires bettors to select the winners of five races run at tracks owned by Magna Entertainment in the span of about one hour, starts its third season on Saturday.

Four of the five races will involve the Sunshine Millions stakes, run at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

This week, the bet starts with the Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel at 4:35 p.m. Eastern. The remaining races are the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream, the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita, the Turf at Gulfstream, and the $1 million Classic at Santa Anita. Post time for the Classic is 5:45 p.m. Eastern.

As in the past, Magna Entertainment is guaranteeing that the bet will have a minimum pool of $500,000.

One Saturday last year, the bet had a record pool of $701,105, but it failed to reach the $500,000 minimum three times during a 10-week run that ended in early April. The bet's season has coincided with the height of Magna's two most prominent meetings, Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

Last year, payoffs ranged from a low of $150.40 on a day dominated by favorites to a high of $406,985.80.

Valentine Dancer closing in on No. 1

Saturday's Sunshine Millions stakes could lead to a major reshuffling in the rankings of the richest California-bred fillies and mares.

Fran's Valentine, who won 13 of 34 starts in the 1980's when purses were lower and the Sunshine Millions did not exist, is the all-time leader with $1,375,465. She could be passed if Valentine Dancer, who has career earnings of $1,144,126, wins the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf for the third straight year.

A win by Valentine Dancer in the Filly and Mare Turf, which is being run at Santa Anita, would be worth $275,000 and would give Valentine Dancer career earnings of $1,419,126.

Trainer Craig Lewis and owner-breeders Al and Sandee Kirkwood have stated that they hope Valentine Dancer can become the all-time leading California-bred female money earner before she retires.

Fran's Valentine is followed on the list by Brown Bess ($1,300,920), Gourmet Girl ($1,255,373), and Lazy Slusan ($1,150,410), all of whom are retired. Valentine Dancer is fifth on the list.

Two other California-bred mares can move onto that list with a win on Saturday. Dream of Summer, who starts in the $500,000 Distaff at Gulfstream Park, has career earnings of $1,071,150, while Moscow Burning, who runs in the Filly and Mare Turf, has earnings of $902,535.

* Ten Palms, Gulfstream's main racetrack dining room, is scheduled to open in time for Sunshine Millions Day on Saturday. The 1,200-seat room stretches the length of the new clubhouse and is named for the 10 royal palm trees surrounding the walking ring.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen