02/22/2008 1:00AM

Vicarino cranked for Bay Meadows BC Sprint


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Vicarino showed that he should be ready for a March 15 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint showdown with Phoenix Gold Cup winner Tribesman by setting a Bay Meadows track record in a five-furlong allowance race Thursday.

Vicarino ran the five furlongs in 55.93 seconds over a track rated wet-fast, beating the old track record of 55.95, set by Rockin' Rizzi on Dec. 8, 2006. Vicarino defeated Tontine Too by two lengths despite breaking slowly. He turned his head to the right just before the starting gate opened and was sitting fourth in the field of five at the first call.

"I wasn't that strong about running," said Vicarino's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, "and when the track came up muddy, I thought, 'Maybe there's a reason not to.' "

But Gilchrist thought the track was safe and decided to give Vicarino his first try on a wet track.

"We found out he could handle mud, and he came off the pace well," Gilchrist said. "A lot of good can come out of this race.

"You always try to take positives out of races, even when you get beat. We got the best of all worlds today. I think it will be pretty easy to train him up to the Sprint."

Vaderator and Tontine Too set sizzling fractions of 20.66 and 43.61. Vicarino trailed Tontine Too by a head with a furlong to run before pulling clear under jockey Russell Baze, who hit him twice to draw even, then three times as he pulled clear.

The track record was the second of Vicarino's career. He set a six-furlong record at Fresno as a 2-year-old.

"I give credit to Russell," Gilchrist said. "When you break slowly like that at five furlongs, your first inclination is to get going real fast, but he let him get his feet underneath him before he began asking him."

Idaho Joe back off layoff

Sunday's feature is a six-furlong $40,000 starter allowance that drew six runners.

Idaho Joe, making his first start in more than six months, wound up preparations for his return with a six-furlong bullet work at Santa Anita.

Providing the main competition should be Huffman, who is a recent maiden winner; From Above, who has hit the board in each of his past four starts; and Crayon Red, who has not missed a check in his last seven starts at this level.