10/06/2007 12:00AM

Topper Shopper going longer in Cavonnier

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Topper Shopper beat up on fellow California-breds at Del Mar, where he won both an allowance race and the I'm Smokin Stakes. He stepped out of his comfort zone to race at Fairplex last time out, and acquitted himself well to finish third in the Barretts Juvenile. After looking at that curveball, he gets another fastball down the middle Monday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Topper Shopper returns to a race restricted to California-breds, the $75,000 Cavonnier Stakes going seven furlongs for 2-year-olds. He figures to be a heavy favorite against seven rivals, three of whom he soundly defeated in the I'm Smokin. But this will be his third race in five weeks, which might give value players hope that he is vulnerable.

The Cavonnier is the seventh race on a special Columbus Day card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific. Santa Anita has a fan-appreciation promotion Monday, with $1 prices on general admission, hot dogs, soft drinks, beer, and popcorn.

In the I'm Smokin, Topper Shopper aggressively fought for the lead while inside and went on to prevail against nine others. Wise Mandate (sixth), Nevada Worrier (seventh), and High Intellect (eighth) all chased him home that day, and are back Monday for a rematch. Topper Shopper's two wins at Del Mar were going six furlongs. He faded going 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex, and now stretches out to seven furlongs for the Cavonnier.

An intriguing upset possibility is Comissioner Gordon, who has won twice in three starts. Those wins were in a maiden-claiming race at Hollywood Park, and a starter-allowance at Del Mar. And though, on paper, those races are inferior to what he is up against Monday, Comissioner Gordon will be facing Cal-breds for the first time after racing against open company, so the move up in class might not be quite so dramatic.

"He ran well last time," Jeff Mullins, who trains Comissioner Gordon, said Saturday morning of his win at Del Mar on Aug. 17. "Fortunately, I found a starter race for him. I felt lucky to be able to run him. But now, there's no Cal-bred first-condition allowance races, so you pretty much have to go in this stake."

Mullins said Comissioner Gordon would not win any beauty contests, but has great desire.

"He's a plain ol' horse, doesn't carry a lot of weight," Mullins said. "He's kind of dorky, like a skinny kid in grade school. He's not the fanciest horse to look at. But he loves his job. He knows what he's here for."

Suit Yourself has been freshened since a troubled sixth in the Graduation Stakes, another Cal-bred stakes at Del Mar.