11/24/2003 12:00AM

Spotlight on Canani and Gill


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Nick Canani says he has regrouped. He returned to California with owner Michael Gill in tow and started claiming enough horses to build one of the largest stables on this circuit. He also ran a few of those claims back quickly. Too quickly, Canani now believes.

He lost with his first six starters at Hollywood Park, a mere blip for most large barns, but for Gill, it is perceived as a severe drought.

"I think we're under the microscope more than anyone else who would be zero for six," Canani said Monday. "Zero for six by no means means we're going to be zero for one hundred. I might have run some back a little quick; I wanted to get some action. But I've picked my head up. We're under scrutiny, so we've got to make sure every one counts."

Canani and Gill have a terrific chance to get their first victory of the season Wednesday, when they send out runners in three consecutive races at Hollywood Park. Lipan, a 2-year-old colt, faces maidens in the fifth race, and then recent claims Saint Lorenzo and Superiority go in the sixth and seventh.

"We should have a good day," Canani said.

Superiority competes in the day's richest race, an optional-claiming event at 1 1/4 miles on turf that carries a purse of $46,000. Superiority, who was claimed for $50,000 Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, is entered for an $80,000 claiming price and seeks his fourth straight victory.

To win, Superiority will have to hope comebacking Meteor Storm does not fire fresh. That would be a surprise, however, since Meteor Storm has a history of running well off a layoff, and his trainer, Wally Dollase, is one of the best with returnees.

Meteor Storm returned from an eight-month layoff to win a first-level allowance race at Santa Anita in March, and he had two more strong efforts before the layoff. This is his first start since May 16, but he shows a sharp series of recent drills.

Canani and Gill have two chances before Superiority runs. Lipan looks like a major player in the fifth. His lone start at Laurel was decent, and he is now moving to the turf, a surface that should agree with his pedigree.

"He's one of the better 2-year-olds we've brought out here," Canani said. "He's kind of an experiment for us. He'll help us gauge which of our 2-year-olds still in Maryland belong out here, and which don't."

Saint Lorenzo is back in for $50,000, the same price for which he was claimed by Canani and Gill on Oct. 29.