07/27/2006 11:00PM

Speed in Finley not on Stone Rain's level

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Sunday's $50,000-added Ernest Finley Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair seems pretty straightforward. Although there are four horses who like the lead, no one can match the early speed of Stone Rain, who has won four straight in wire-to-wire fashion at Sunday's six-furlong distance.

Most recently, Stone Rain scored a five-length win in the Sam Whiting at Pleasanton on July 8.

"Every race on paper, it looks like there's someone who might go for the lead against him, but he always seems to get the lead," said his trainer, Billy Morey.

The three who will try to press Stone Rain are Swen, Gilded Bertrando, and Flying Supercon.

Swen, just claimed for $25,000 by Morey, comes off a pair of wire-to-wire wins at a mile. Gilded Bertrando has set the pace in his past three starts, all at a mile. Flying Supercon wants the lead, but he was two behind Stone Rain in the opening quarter of the Sam Whiting and faded to seventh, beaten 19 1/2 lengths.

Court's in Session is the lone closer in the field of five. He was third in the Whiting and has placed in three stakes this year.

"I just think he's on a different level than these," said Morey of Stone Rain, a 5-year-old gelding who has won four starts and earned $85,175 since Morey claimed him for $80,000 on March 10.

Old Man River, who finished second in the Whiting, came back to win a strong allowance race at Del Mar on Thursday.

Stone Rain drew the rail, which, given his speed, is not a bad thing. Morey said, however, that he wishes Stone Rain were drawn outside.

The only slight concern is that the rail has been dead early in the meeting. Jockey Roberto Gonzalez should have Stone Rain on a comfortable enough lead, though, and they should not get bogged down on the rail.

"I've noticed that," Morey said of the dead rail. "I'll just leave that to Gonzo on race day."

Morey said he is almost more concerned about Swen than he is Stone Rain. One reason Swen was entered was to make the race go, but he definitely has a chance to be second, according to Morey.

"I think Swen has a chance to run well here," he said. "He came off such a big win when we claimed him, I don't want to risk losing him now."