07/11/2005 11:00PM

Talent, not Baze, McKennan's edge

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VALLEJO, Calif. - There are many variables in horse racing, including the jockey. Thursday's feature race at the Solano County Fair, however, doesn't appear to be a race in which a rider's tactics can spell the difference between victory and defeat.

There are several obvious contenders in the $6,250 claimer for nonwinners of two races lifetime, and several who seem overmatched in the 5 1/2-furlong race no matter who is aboard.

rates the edge on consistency and gets the presence of the second-winningest U.S. jockey of all time, Russell Baze, who rode him to his only victory. In his past seven starts, McKennan has been ridden by Dennis Carr four times, earning three thirds and a fourth; by Jason Lumpkins once, finishing third; by Baze once; and last time by Chad Schvaneveldt, who finished second at this level in Stockton. Since McKennan has run well with several different riders, the presence of Baze doesn't appear to enhance his chances.

Sometimes a rider can get hot, such as David Lopez, who scored 17 wins in two weeks as Stockton's leading rider and gets the call right back on recent maiden winner Jackson Levi, who was one of his winners at Stockton.

Likewise, Schvaneveldt, who tied with Roberto Gonzalez with 13 wins at Pleasanton, including four of the five stakes there, comes right back aboard , who ran third at this level in his northern California debut at Pleasanton.

Also running is , a 5-year-old mare who has been ridden by 12 different jockeys in 12 starts. She makes only her third start in the past two years Thursday and gets the services of Barrington Harvey, who has ridden her once before.

Jockeys coming and going

Chance Rollins, who has been bothered by a wrist injury first suffered in October, is finally back riding at Solano. Apprentice Kate Repp has also returned after suffering stiffness in her back after a mount fell last Thursday.

On the sidelines is Macario Rodriguez, who suffered a broken right collarbone when he fell off his mount Friday. He is expected to be out for at least four weeks. Emmanuel Mendez, who rode $60 winner Madeittothemoon at Pleasanton on June 30, is out for at least two months after suffering a fractured right wrist in a training spill.