10/24/2006 11:00PM

Time ripe for Texcess to end losing streak

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ARCADIA, Calif. - In an eight-race campaign this year, Texcess has nearly earned back the $300,000 that Carl Van Burger and Andy and Scott Anastasi paid for him at the Barretts January mixed sale earlier this year.

Not bad for a 4-year-old gelding on a 16-race losing streak.

Saturday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, Texcess has a chance to end that losing streak and provide the partnership and trainer Mike Mitchell with a windfall. Texcess is a leading contender for the $250,000 California Cup Classic, the most lucrative of 11 races for statebreds on Saturday.

Despite the losing streak, Mitchell expects Texcess to run well in the Classic, which is run over 1 1/8 miles and has drawn a field of nine. The Classic has drawn a moderate field. Top statebreds Brother Derek and Lava Man are passing the California Cup to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

The nine entrants in the Cal Cup Classic include two stakes winners from this year: American All Star, who won the Bull Dog Stakes at the Big Fresno Fair on Oct. 15, and Seven Nation Army, the winner of the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar in August.

The likely favorite is Top This and That, who is trained by Dan Hendricks. Top This and That was second in the Ralph Hinds Pomona Invitational at Fairplex Park on Sept. 24, losing by a half-length. He was sixth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August.

Texcess has placed in four stakes this year, including a second in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas in May and a third in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic.

Texcess finished fifth in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Sept. 4 after a troubled start.

"He got kind of eliminated in the last race," Mitchell said of the Berkeley. "He didn't have a chance. We've given him a nice rest."

Texcess drew the outside post for the Classic.

Texcess has been reliant on a strong pace to help his rally. A gelding by In Excess, Texcess has run well near the front on occasion, though. In the Lone Star Park Handicap in May, he was near the lead before finishing second to fellow California invader Magnum. With that experience, Mitchell said jockey Victor Espinoza could keep Texcess closer to the front in Saturday's race.

"I liked his race when he was close," Mitchell said.