05/12/2005 11:00PM

There's no escaping 'Dragon' in Alcatraz


ALBANY, Calif. - Chinese Dragon, an Irish import by way of Southern California, will be a heavy favorite in Sunday's $100,000 Alcatraz Breeders' Cup at Golden Gate Fields. Among the horses , who makes his turf debut.

The one-mile turf test is for 3-year-olds, and Chinese Dragon comes into the race having won four straight, including all three of his starts this year. He won the Pasadena and La Puente, both at Santa Anita, in his past two starts.

Chinese Dragon came from well off the pace in the one-mile Pasadena and stalked the pace in the 1 1/8-mile La Puente, finishing strongly both times. Corey Nakatani comes north to ride the colt for trainer Bob Hess Jr.

A Kentucky-bred, Chinese Dragon made his debut in Ireland. He was seventh, beaten 22 1/2 lengths in his debut and hasn't lost since, graduating at The Curragh in his next start before being sold and returned to the United States.

Another Irish-bred Southern California shipper, , looks like Chinese Dragon's main opponent. Mighty Empire raced in Great Britain as a 2-year-old before being purchased by Ron McAnally and brought to the U.S.

Mighty Empire's first two U.S. starts came in 6 1/2-furlong allowance races down Santa Anita's hillside turf course. He broke slowly the first time and made a mild move to finish fifth. He ran fourth in his second start after having to steady in the lane. Sent to Bay Meadows and stretched out to a mile, he beat a solid field that included Dynawhite and Booming Along.

"Running long was [McAnally's] intention from the start," said McAnally's assistant Dan Landers. "Going down the hill wasn't that bad, but it was a progression."

There were no Chinese Dragons the day Mighty Empire won at Bay Meadows. Nonethless, it was a good field and solid victory, and the race was visually impressive.

* In Sunday's opener, stakes winners Trapper and Jet West return to the races for the first time this year in a six-furlong $80,000 optional claimer.