06/09/2002 11:00PM

Slewsbox astonishes Peery

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Take it from trainer Chuck Peery. There's just no way of knowing.

Peery may still be floating just a bit when he saddles Justnowayofknowin' in Wednesday's feature at Bay Meadows.

"That race looks awfully tough," said Peery, who faces Sempai and All Access among his seven rivals in the $50,000 claimer at six furlongs.

Meeting tough competition is nothing new for Peery, who pulled off an upset victory Friday in the Grade 3, $107,100 Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park with Slewsbox ($20.20). She prevailed by a neck over heavy favorite Kalookan Queen, winning the six-furlong race in 1:09.57.

It was his first victory in a Southern California graded stakes since Highland Gold won the Los Angeles Handicap in June 2000.

Peery passed the $60,600 Sunnyvale Handicap at Bay Meadows on June 2 to run in the Desert Stormer. Irguns Angel won the six-furlong Sunnyvale in 1:08.86. Following the Sunnyvale, Ron Anson, owner of Irguns Angel, said he wanted to run his filly in what appeared to be an easier spot to build her confidence rather than tackle tougher competition in the Desert Stormer.

It goes to show there's just no way of knowing.

"The owners made the decision," Peery said of running in the Desert Stormer. "She's done as much as an overnight handicap mare can do. They're the owners and breeders and decided to take a shot.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I have the thought she could beat Kalookan Queen. My objective going down there was to run third and get her stakes-placed in a graded race."

Instead, it turned into a dream come true for Peery.

Because of Slewsbox's troubled race in the May 4 Woodside Handicap at Bay Meadows, which snapped a five-race winning streak stretching back to 2000, Peery added blinkers.

"I was a little concerned when I saw her throw up a fraction of 43 and change [43.43]," Peery said. "I wondered if I had lost one by putting blinkers on her.

"But in her last race, she was doing a little extra looking around and got into trouble. At night, there are more things to look at. It worked fine. I don't know if that's why she showed more speed, but it helped her focus."

Justnowayofknowin' will have to focus Wednesday. He moves up from a $32,000 claimer at 4 1/2 furlongs on the turf in his comeback after suffering a shin injury.

"He got a chance to run a race on the grass sprinting," Peery said. "I thought that was a good way to prep him."

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