08/05/2004 11:00PM

Vicente, Thresher meet off impressive efforts

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Vicente and Thresher didn't meet at Pleasanton on July 4.

They ran two races apart in a pair of five-furlong races, Vicente in a maiden race and Thresher in the Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity. But their efforts in those two races tab them as the ones to beat Sunday against seven rivals in the $40,000-added Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at the Sonoma County Fair.

Cavonnier, the 1996 Kentucky Derby runner-up who was raised minutes from the track, will be paraded at the track before the race.

Vicente nearly broke the Pleasanton track record in his maiden win, going wire to wire to score by four lengths in 56.62 seconds.

Wind Water broke the record two races later in the Nevin, finishing in 56.20. Thresher finished third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, after being virtually eliminated at the break.

Vicente and Thresher, both 2-year-old geldings, proved a lot to their trainers that day.

"We thought about going south [to Del Mar] for a stakes with him, but then I thought we better stay here and try to take a smaller step," said Greg Gilchrist, who trains Vicente. "This spot's not going to be a piece of cake, but he is training well. He's a hard horse to read. He's very laid-back, more like a 12-year-old instead of a 2-year-old."

Vicente ran second in his debut at two furlongs, then got a two-month freshener before setting a blistering pace from the rail in his victory.

Gilchrist said he was confident going into that race, and Vicente has a similar work pattern here.

"His last work was faster," said Gilchrist, referring to Vicente's five-furlong move in 1:00.20 on Aug. 1. "If you don't put him into a work, he doesn't train hard, although that will probably help him stay sound."

Trainer Keith Bennett saw Thresher score a wire-to-wire victory in a $32,000 claimer in his debut.

"He was working like he fit at that level, and it's tough to go from Pleasanton to Bay Meadows to race," Bennett said. "I was surprised he ran so fast."

Thresher had every right not to run in the Nevin. An incident with another horse at the gate delayed the race, and Bennett said by the time the latch was sprung, "He kind of fell asleep."

Thresher was also bothered when the horse outside broke inwardly and bumped him. Thresher tried to rush up after the incident and made up ground to the quarter pole before beginning to tire.

Still, Bennett saw enough to be pleased by the effort.

"I don't think he really needs the lead, because he settled okay," Bennett said.

Thresher will need a clean break Sunday if he is to catch Vicente, and even then it will be tough.