08/18/2006 11:00PM

Shootist puts speed to test in mile debut


DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Peter Miller admits that starting Shootist in Monday's second race at Del Mar is something of a risk.

Shootist has never run beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, but is appearing in a one-mile optional claimer for California-breds. The decision to start him in a longer race was suggested by jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode Shootist to a fourth-place finish in an optional claimer over six furlongs here July 23.

Owned by Jack Munari, Shootist has made one subsequent start, finishing second in a five-furlong allowance race on turf in his first start for Miller on Aug. 10. Previously trained by Bill Spawr, Shootist was transferred to Miller's stable after the July 23 race.

"Nakatani had ridden the horse before I got him," Miller said. "He said to put this horse on the lead going long, and he thinks he'll keep going."

In the turf sprint, Shootist led to the final sixteenth under jockey Martin Pedroza before finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Buck Tuddy Buck. Miller said he does not fear the quick turnaround.

"I think Martin sent him the whole way," Miller said. "With a little more patient ride, he could have run better. Those five-eighths races on the grass, I don't think they take as much out of a horse."

Miller's stable is having an excellent summer. It has won with 5 of its first 17 runners at Del Mar.

Last Wednesday, Miller won the Green Flash Handicap here with Fast Parade, who may return in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 7.

At Hollywood Park, Miller won the Landaluce Stakes with Pinata, who has resumed training after a break and is a candidate for the Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 4.

Shootist does not face a difficult field in his route debut.

Sultry Bard, who finished third in the Quicken Tree Stakes for California-breds at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in June, is the only member of the seven-horse field with stakes experience this year. Trained by Oscar Garcia, Sultry Bard will not be well backed. He has finished fifth, ninth, and fifth in three races since the Quicken Tree.

Trainer Mike Harrington has two starters - Swiss Arrow and Will.

Swiss Arrow has ample speed. A 3-year-old gelding, he was fourth behind Buck Tuddy Buck on Aug. 10.

The late-running Will was beaten a nose in an optional claimer for statebred sprinters here Aug. 7, a race that is likely to make him the favorite.