07/08/2011 12:27PM

Pleasanton: Goggles McCoy may need versatility in Sam Whiting


Trainer Steve Sherman knows he trains a very fast horse in Goggles McCoy. On Sunday, he may find out if Goggles McCoy can win from off the pace.

A 4-year-old In Excess gelding, Goggles McCoy breaks from the rail against four rivals in the $50,000 Sam J. Whiting Memorial Handicap at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, Calif. Among his rivals is Excessive Passion, who just might outsprint him early.

Goggles McCoy is 3 for 4 at the six-furlong distance of the Whiting, losing only in the Cal Cup Sprint last fall at Hollywood Park. He has won 5 of his 8 starts, all four in Northern California, including at allowance victory over this track last year.

“We looked at other spots, but it didn’t look like they set up well,” Sherman said. “He’s training well, and we wanted to keep him at home.”

Goggles McCoy has worked steadily in the two months since his last-place finish in the Cool Frenchy at Hollywood Park. He wound up preparations with back-to-back six-furlong bullet drills at Golden Gate Fields.

Despite his record, which includes a victory in the $100,000 Real Good Deal last year at Del Mar, Goggles McCoy still has to prove his versatility to Sherman.

“He doesn’t run as well off the pace, and there’s always somebody faster than you somewhere,” Sherman said. “I haven’t seen him pass anybody. That separates really good ones from just good ones.”

Breaking from just outside him is Excessive Passion, who won the Everett Nevin here two years ago. He’ll be making his first start since Jan. 29 when he went head-and-head through fractions of 20.80 and 42.72 in the Sunshine Millions Sprint before fading.

Granted, those fractions were on the lightning-fast Santa Anita track, but Excessive Passion has been working very well over the Pleasanton track with a pair of bullet works, including a 57.80 five-furlong drill on June 15 and two solid six-furlong moves since.

Excessive Passion has the advantages of freshness and the outside draw, but Goggles McCoy won’t shy away from a pace duel, and that could hurt both and set things up for Scofield Barracks, who won here opening day, and Rooster City, who was second to Scofield Barracks.

Turf specialist Whatsthescript looks to be in this as a prep and could be the longest shot on the board despite his Hall of Fame human connections of Jerry Hollendorfer and Russell Baze.