02/04/2002 12:00AM

Blazing Road takes on winners

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Duane Offield is looking forward to Wednesday's feature at Golden Gate Fields. He has entered Blazing Road in the six-furlong allowance, a colt who will be making his first start against winners.

Blazing Road did not make his first start until last Oct. 11. He won his maiden in his third try, against a strong field.

"He's a great big horse," Offield said of Blazing Road.

It took the colt time to get his act together, mentally as well as physically, but the wait was worth it.

"When he started breezing, he acted like a decent horse," said Offield, who credits owner Ted Rexius's patience for allowing the colt time to develop properly. "The first time he ran, we knew he was green."

Blazing Road finished fifth of six in his debut, behind How Bout Jose and Tonco. He finished third in his second start, behind Mt. Rainer and Tonco.

"The second time there was a speed bias, and he had no chance," said Offield, who was happy with the third-place finish.

In his third start, Blazing Road broke alertly and showed speed. He battled head-and-head on the front end with Tonco, finally discouraged him, and pulled away to win.

"I was surprised he showed as much speed as he did," Offield said. "He and Tonco went head-to-head, and I was thinking, 'This isn't a good scenario.' And then he pulled away. When he drew clear, it was impressive."

Offield has wanted to run Blazing Road in a two-turn race, but he has scratched him twice because the track came up muddy.

"It was kind of deep, and I didn't want him to labor along if he got tired," Offield said. "I think this will tell me how much quality he's got. I really think he wants to run around two turns."

Offield doesn't expect to see Blazing Road on the lead Wednesday.

"It will depend upon how he breaks, but I think he'll be off the pace," he said. "That's a better style for going long."

Meanwhile, indications are that Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Tanforan Handicap will have a full field. The 1 1/16-mile turf race drew 25 nominees.

Trainer Bobby Frankel plans to send highweight Decarchy north from Santa Anita for the race. Other early probables for the race are Big Board, I'madrifter, Hoovergetthekeys, Sea to See, Sirpa, and Ninebanks.

Trainer Steve Specht, who entered I'madrifter in the Lafayette Handicap Jan. 1 hoping it would come off the turf, said I'madrifter will run in the Tanforan if the race goes as scheduled on the turf.

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