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HORSE RACING

Another Big Victory for Trainer Canani

August 29, 2004|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

DEL MAR — Others may have more wins, but no trainer is having a better meet here than Julio Canani.

The Peruvian-born Canani picked up his third Grade I victory since the season began July 21 when Sweet Catomine, the lesser-regarded half of the favored 8-5 entry with Proposed, rallied from last to defeat 3-1 second choice Souvenir Gift by three-quarters of a length to win the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday.

Owned and bred by Pam and Marty Wygod, Sweet Catomine, a 2-year-old Storm Cat filly who had finished second in her only other start July 31, took full advantage of a quick early pace to give jockey Victor Espinoza his second Debutante win in four years. He won with Habibti in 2001.

Besides the Grade I's -- which included victories by Special Ring in the Eddie Read Handicap last month and longshot Amorama in the Del Mar Oaks eight days ago -- Canani also has gotten consecutive stakes wins from Blackdoun, who will try for a sweep of Del Mar's three-race grass series for 3-year-olds in the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

"She's so big, so she isn't as advanced as the other one [Proposed, who wound up seventh]," Canani said of Sweet Catomine. "I haven't trained her very hard because she's so big. I never push a horse. I let them do it on their own. I think she'll be a really nice filly as a 3-year-old."

Souvenir Gift, second to Inspiring in the Sorrento Stakes three weeks earlier, was kept wide by jockey Tyler Baze while reserved well off the leaders, made a wide run to take command, but couldn't hold off the winner in a race where the final eighth of a mile took nearly 14 seconds to complete.

Hello Lucky, a 12-1 shot who set the pace, finished third, then came Ninadivina, Girly Girl and She's Salty, who finished in a dead heat, Proposed, No Bull Baby and Princess Godiva.

*

Making his first start since he spoiled Smarty Jones' bid for a Triple Crown with a 36-1 upset in the Belmont Stakes on June 5, Birdstone won the $1-million Travers under dark, lightning-filled skies at Saratoga.

Owned by Marylou Whitney, Birdstone, a 3-year-old son of Grindstone, gave trainer Nick Zito his first victory in the Grade I. To make matters even better for Zito, The Cliff's Edge, the Gulch colt he trains for owner Bob LaPenta, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths behind.

Ridden by Edgar Prado, Birdstone, the fourth choice at 9-2, won for the fifth time in eight starts and completed the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.45.

"Those two horses were really great today," Zito said. "Birdstone proved how great he is, coming off the layoff."

Eddington finished a distant third, then came Purge, Sir Shackleton, who also is trained by Zito, Suave and Lion Heart, the 5-2 favorite who faded badly after setting a slow pace.

"He quit too early," said Patrick Biancone, Lion Heart's trainer. "I don't know what else until I see him."

In other stakes on the Saratoga card, Smokey Glacken ($7.50) won the $75,000 Victory Ride, favored Nothing To Lose ($5.80) took the $200,000 Fourstardave and Pomeroy ($11.40) won the $250,000 King's Bishop.

Heavy rain fell shortly after the Travers was official and it was quickly decided the final race on the program would be canceled.

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