10/09/2003 11:00PM

Top two likely to dominate in Bull Dog


FRESNO, Calif. - My Captain, who has scored two straight stakes victories, and Beyond Brilliant, a multiple stakes winner who returned to his winning ways in his last start, top a field of seven in the $50,000 Bull Dog Stakes at the Big Fresno Fair on Sunday.

An additional $10,000 was added to the purse and a California-bred restriction was lifted this year in hopes of attracting a strong field for the lone Thoroughbred stakes of the meeting.

My Captain, a Kentucky-bred, outran some of the best California-bred sprinters in the Big Jag Handicap at Bay Meadows on Sept. 6, beating Echo Eddie and Full Moon Madness.

The Bull Dog was a logical spot for My Captain, trainer Art Sherman said. The only other sprint at Bay Meadows was for Cal-breds, and Sherman didn't want to ask too much of his improving runner by sending him to Santa Anita for the Ancient Title.

Sherman sent My Captain to Fresno on Thursday.

"I wanted him to get a little acclimated," Sherman said of sending My Captain down early. "This gives him a chance to familiarize himself with everything."

My Captain, troubled by quarter cracks throughout his career, has turned in two strong efforts to win the Ernest Finley at Santa Rosa and the Big Jag. In both races, he stalked an early pacesetter and made a strong move to score impressive victories.

The 5-year-old Beyond Brilliant was brilliant in his 2- and 3-year-old campaigns, running and winning on both the West Coast and East Coast.

But his form began to regress, and trainer Greg Gilchrist finally decided to geld him. Beyond Brilliant won a minor stakes race at Turf Paradise after being gelded but had to be dropped into claimers in an attempt to have him become competitive again.

He had begun to show signs of life and turned in one of the best efforts of his career in winning a $32,000 claimer in a competitive field at Bay Meadows Sept. 18.

"You know how it is with old class horses," Gilchrist said. "It's always still there. They just have to put it together."

If Beyond Brilliant, who drew the rail, can put it together again, it could be a tremendous race. If not, My Captain, more advantageously drawn in the sixth post, seems lengths the best.

Rounding out the field are Chataquos' Chance, Canasto Boy, Tera Kitty, King Wonderful, and Nu Cat.