11/25/2009 12:00AM

San Quentin battle of familiar foes


When he looks back on what Yacht Spotter has done in 2009, trainer Frank Lucarelli can't believe the 5-year-old gelding is winless for the year.

Yacht Spotter has finished second and third in graded stakes this year, and will try to break through for a win Friday in the $50,000 San Quentin at Golden Gate Fields. The 1 1/16-mile Tapeta race also attracted Bold Chieftain, who goes for his third straight stakes victory and is the likely favorite in a field of six.

Yacht Spotter is coming back eight days after fading late to finish sixth and last in a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance at Hollywood Park. He will be the one to catch again on Friday.

Earlier this year, Yacht Spotter twice finished ahead of Bold Chieftain. They finished second and third behind Mr Napper Tandy in the Grade 2 San Franciso Mile on the Golden Gate turf in April, which came one race after a two-three finish behind Ferneley in an allowance over the Golden Gate turf.

Lucarelli said he thinks the San Quentin sets up nicely for the front-running Yacht Spotter and jockey Leslie Mawing, with little speed in the field.

"This is a little light on speed," he said. "Leslie has ridden him before. He just needs to get him to relax."

Lucarelli said he thinks Yacht Spotter is better on turf than the main track, which will make his job tougher on Friday.

Yacht Spotter ran third going a mile on turf two starts back in the Lure at Santa Anita, his other stakes appearance this year. Yacht Spotter ran fifth in his only main-track start of the year, which came in an optional claimer on the dirt at Emerald Downs.

As for Bold Chieftain, he also hadn't been able to win this year - until his last two starts.

Things turned around for Bold Chieftain with a five-length victory in the Governor's Handicap on dirt at Sacramento in September. He became the first two-time winner of the California Cup Classic on Oct. 3 on the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita.

Trainer Bill Morey Jr. points out that Bold Chieftain has not won here since the dirt track was replaced by the current Tapeta surface.

"I don't believe it's his favorite surface," Morey said. "I hope they have it good and tight."