05/23/2008 11:00PM

Specht looking for clear skies


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Steve Specht has done all he can to prepare McCann's Mojave for Monday's Grade 3, $150,000 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

Now he is hoping history doesn't repeat itself as McCann's Mojave prepares to meet six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race on the main track.

"I just hope the weather clears up," Specht said Saturday.

Cool weather, gray skies, and dampness enveloped the area to start the Memorial Day weekend. That's normally the type of weather trainers and horses love.

But under similar weather conditions in last year's Berkeley, McCann's Mojave, the 6-5 favorite, stopped in the stretch after making a strong move on the second turn to take the lead.

"He bled badly that day, so that's in the back of my mind," Specht said. "He's only bled twice, once during a work and that day. He's run in 100-degree temperatures when many horses seem to bleed, but the only times he bled were on damp, cold days."

"He's been training good," said Specht, after McCann's Mojave recorded a 1:11.20 six-furlong bullet from the gate on May 18 and a solid 1:38.60 mile move on May 9.

McCann's Mojave won last fall's Grade 3 All American Handicap on the Tapeta surface here after running in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap on Santa Anita's downhill turf course.

His race before Monday's was also down the Santa Anita hill.

"Horses come off that hill and seem to run good their next start," Specht said.

Specht also got a break in a race that seems loaded with speed when McCann's Mojave, who is at his best sitting just off the pace, drew post 6 outside the rest of the speed.

"Outside, you're okay even if you don't get away well," he said. "You can read the race and make decisions. It's better than the inside, which forces a decision earlier."

Those in the field who run on or near the lead include Our Partner, who just finished second in the April 20 Bay Meadows Handicap on the turf after setting the pace; Desert Code, second in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy on April 26 at Hollywood Park; Marsh Side; and Magnum.