01/31/2002 1:00AM

Sign of Lanty totes 130 in comeback

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Two-time defending champion distance horse Sign of Lanty starts his bid for a three-peat by carrying 130 pounds in the Grade 3, $26,350 The Moonshiner Handicap over his favorite distance of 870 yards Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Sign of Lanty, owned by Jackie and Rod MacPherson, is trying to become the second horse to be named champion distance horse for three straight years. Griswold was the champion distance horse for 1991-93.

An 8-year-old gelding from the John Cooper stable, Sign of Lanty toted 130 pounds to victory in last year's running of The Moonshiner. He also carried 130 pounds to victory in the 2000 Marathon Invitational Handicap. He has never carried more than 130 pounds.

The win in last year's The Moonshiner launched a season in which Sign of Lanty won six races, including five stakes, and finished second in two stakes from eight starts, all at 870 yards.

Sign of Lanty, now 8, is making his first start since he won the Grade 1 Marathon Invitational Handicap on Nov. 17 while carrying 128 pounds. He won by five lengths and his time of 44.56 seconds was the fastest time of the 131-date Los Alamitos season.

He became the first horse to win the Marathon for three straight years and it was his 14th stakes win at Los Alamitos. He is tied with Griswold for third on the list of all-time Los Alamitos stakes winners, behind Charger Bar and Kaweah Bar (18 each).

That convincing victory in the 2001 Marathon Invitational was his fourth straight victory. He also won the California Distance Challenge, the Bull Rastus Handicap, and the Challenge Distance Championship during his current winning streak. The longest odds during this winning streak were 1-2.

Sign of Lanty prepared for The Moonshiner with an 870-yard work in 47.5 seconds on Jan. 20.

Sign of Lanty, who has the inside post position with Eddie Garcia up, will be giving at least eight pounds to each of his four rivals.

Dashin With Johnny, who carries 122 pounds, has five wins and two thirds in his last seven starts. Each of his third-place finishes was behind Sign of Lanty in a stakes race. He comes off an allowance win at 870 yards on Jan. 12.

Special Crys in contentious stakes

Special Crys, sixth in the Grade 3 Sunland Fall Derby on Dec. 15 as the even-money favorite, will try to rebound when she takes on a contentious group of fillies and mares in the $25,000 KHEY Handicap over 350 yards Saturday afternoon at Sunland Park.

Special Crys, owned by Jose and Victory Diaz, ran off five wins from eight starts before faltering in the Sunland Fall Derby.

Menas Magic comes off a close win in a 330-yard allowance race on Jan. 12 at Sunland Park. She has two wins in her last three starts and has finished worse than third only once in her last nine outs.