08/16/2006 11:00PM

Speed draws inside for Pacific Classic

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Lava Man, training Thursday at Del Mar, drew post 2 for the Classic, just inside Preachinatthebar. Both are expected to be part of the pace.

DEL MAR, Calif. - To stretch his winning streak to six, Lava Man may find himself having to make all the running in Sunday's $1 million at Del Mar. Lava Man on Wednesday drew post 2, one spot to the inside of Preachinatthebar, the runner-up in the San Diego Handicap on July 22, who is also expected to be part of the pace.

Those two are the only horses with front-running experience in the field of eight.

Doug O'Neill, who trains Lava Man, said the first half of the 1 1/4-mile race could develop into a jockey's race between Corey Nakatani on Lava Man and Victor Espinoza on Preachinatthebar.

"We've told Corey, Don't let the [others] loaf to the lead," O'Neill said. "If Victor doesn't send, he could be sitting right off of us. Our horse has natural speed."

Lava Man has shown the ability to lead throughout. He fought for the lead throughout the Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 miles in March, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Magnum, a starter in the Pacific Classic.

Owned by Jason Wood and the Kenly family's STD Racing, Lava Man has won 12 of 32 starts and $2,904,706. Steve Kenly was hoping Lava Man would draw farther to the outside.

"It's the place we didn't want to be," Kenly said. "I want to keep the streak alive for the horse."

In his wins in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup, Lava Man spotted the second-place finishers seven and 10 pounds. In the Pacific Classic, all starters carry 124 pounds.

There will need to be some pace to help the late kick of Giacomo, the winner of the 2005 Kentucky Derby and last month's San Diego Handicap. He will have no problem with the 10 furlongs, but will have an easier time catching a resilient Lava Man if that horse has a tough time early.

Giacomo will break from post 4, which was farther inside than trainer John Shirreffs would have preferred.

"You want to be toward the outside, but 4 is good," he said.

Magnum drew post 5, which should suit his stalking style. He led in the Hollywood Gold Cup and faded to finish fourth, but trainer Darrell Vienna and jockey Alex Solis do not want to replicate those tactics. Solis is riding Magnum for the first time, and has been aboard for recent workouts.

"I want to get him to relax," Solis said. "I'm happy with the way he's coming up to the race."