10/21/2010 11:57AM

Summer Excess takes the stakes test in Oakland

Benoit & Associates
Jeranimo, winning the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita, turns back to a sprint in the Oakland.

ALBANY, Calif. – Trainer Bud Klokstad won’t admit to high expectations for Summer Excess, a 3-year-old who is making his stakes debut in Saturday’s $50,000 Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields. But just the fact he has entered the gelding in this six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and up tells you something. Summer Excess faces five rivals, four of whom are stakes winners.

Summer Excess comes into the race with four straight wire-to-wire victories, a streak that began after he lost his debut by a length. A Private Gold homebred owned by Klokstad’s wife, Billie, and Helen Sherry, Summer Excess has seen his Beyers improve with each start, from a 72 in his maiden victory in February to a 95 in his last start, a head victory in a Golden Gate optional claiming sprint.

But it’s one thing to breeze through allowance conditions and quite another to face tough older runners like the Grade 2 winner Jeranimo, who is making his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March.

“He’s just a decent horse,” said Klokstad of Summer Excess. “We didn’t really have a choice, so we’ll take a whack at it. He likes to win. He’s gotten hooked, but he keeps going.”

Jeranimo, trained by Michael Pender, won the Grade 2 Strub at Santa Anita in February, and is clearly the class of the field. While this race is no doubt a prep for a longer race, Jeranimo won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance sprint at Santa Anita back in January.

The cast also includes Restless Youth, who is running better than ever at age 7 with a victory in the Sam Whiting sprint at Pleasanton, a third going long on the turf in the Joseph Grace at Santa Rosa, and a sprint victory here in his past three starts.

Restless Youth has good speed and could keep Summer Excess from getting the lead. The duel could set things up for Silver Stetson Man, a stalker who won the Governor’s Cup at Fairplex on Sept. 22 and has been competitive in Southern California allowance races.

The only other 3-year-old in the field is Our Minesweeper, who scored back-to-back stakes wins last year and will be making his first start since May 15.

Live Sundays has run second in his past three starts, including in the Alamedan Handicap at Pleasanton and in the Grace.