07/25/2004 11:00PM

Wind Water always a stakes horse

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The blazing speed that carried Wind Water to a four-length stakes win at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton earlier this month will be tested when he starts in Wednesday's $125,000 Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Wind Water won his first race in the Everett Nevin Futurity at Pleasanton on July 4, flying through early fractions of 21.15 and 43.95 seconds before finishing five furlongs in 56.20.

The win left owners Janet and William Lyons and trainer Brian Koriner convinced Wind Water can be a factor in the Graduation Stakes, run over 5 1/2 furlongs for California-breds.

"He flew away from the gates," Koriner said.

Wind Water drew post 5 in a field of eight in the Graduation. He will face early pressure from Fallfree, who was third in the Haggin Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 20, and through the stretch by Johnny High Brite, who was second in the Nevin. Five of the runners have started in maiden claiming races.

Wind Water has run twice. He made his career debut with a third-place finish at 49-1 in the Malcolm Anderson Stakes over 4 1/2 furlongs at Bay Meadows on June 13. Wind Water rallied from fifth to lose by four lengths.

"We ran in the stakes the first time because there was nowhere else to run at the end of Bay Meadows," Koriner said. "We wanted to get an out in him."

Because of that performance, Koriner says Wind Water can stalk the pace, if needed. "I don't think he has to be on the lead," he said.

Johnny High Brite is a threat to Wind Water. A half-brother to the stakes winner Shalini, Johnny High Brite scored a sharp win against statebred maidens at Hollywood on June 10. He was favored in the Nevin, but was not helped by starting from the rail, trainer Craig Dollase said.

"I think it hindered his chances because he broke slowly," Dollase said. "The other horse was too quick."

Of the ex-maiden claimers, Lotta Loot and Senor Fango will be well backed.

Senor Fango won a $62,500 claiming race for maidens by 7 1/2 lengths at Hollywood on July 4.

Lotta Loot won a $40,000 claiming race for maidens at Hollywood on May 26 and returned to finish sixth in the Haggin. Trainer Clifford Sise said he is worried that the distance of the Graduation will be too short.

"He has to be taken a hold of," Sise said. "He's training unbelievably well. He needs to go further."