02/26/2004 12:00AM

Two-turn win a must for Capac

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Capac was regarded highly enough to be included among the 23 individual entries in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, ranking 15th at closing odds of 38-1. But until Capac proves he can handle two turns against stakes-caliber competition, he can't be considered a serious Derby candidate.

A 3-year-old colt, Capac takes the first small step toward that goal when he goes against a modest field of 3-year-olds in Saturday's $40,000 Miracle Wood at Laurel Park. The Miracle Wood will be Capac's stakes debut and first race beyond seven furlongs.

In his only start this season, Capac overcame a slow start out of the gate to easily defeat first-level allowance horses at seven furlongs. The Beyer Speed Figure of 84 that Capac earned, however, was considerably lower than the 97 he earned for his maiden victory at Churchill Downs last November.

According to jockey Jeremy Rose, Capac is a much better horse than he showed Feb. 4.

"I don't think we got to see his talent that day," said Rose, who retains the mount on Capac for the Miracle Wood. "I didn't ride him the way I will this time. I'll make him break out of the gate. I think he'll be awfully tough in here."

Rose said he believes Capac compares favorably to Toccet, a horse he rode to two wins in 2002. That season, Toccet was an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding juvenile male, winning 6 of 8 races, including four graded events.

"He impressed me more than when I rode Toccet," Rose said of Capac. "I'm not going to say he'll be that good, because Toccet climbed the ladder after I rode him. But this horse is better than Toccet when I rode him."

Capac has very little to beat in the 1 1/16-mile Miracle Wood. His main competition should come from Acclimate and Water Cannon, a pair of two-time winners who prefer to run on the lead.

Acclimate set the early pace and earned a career-best 86 Beyer when he finished fourth behind Kentucky Derby prospect Tapit in last fall's Laurel Futurity. In his first start this year, Acclimate was part of a three-horse fight during the hot early stages of the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway at Aqueduct. He faded badly to sixth but is eligible to improve in his second start off a layoff.

Water Cannon needed seven starts to win his maiden but followed up with a 6 1/2-length romp and an 80 Beyer against first-level allowance foes.