01/21/2009 1:00AM

Blue Exit expected to improve off last two

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Three months after he was foiled in both of his U.S. races, well-regarded European import Blue Exit starts over Thursday at Santa Anita.

"We're expecting a different a result," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, adding that Blue Exit "just needed more time to acclimate."

Blue Exit faces Zappa in race 7, a 1 1/16-mile third-level allowance/optional $80,000 claimer on the Pro-Ride main track. Hollendorfer also entered comeback front-runner Our Partner, but expectations are higher for Blue Exit.

"His works are better now, we expect an improved effort," Hollendorfer said. Blue Exit was a 3-for-5 listed stakes winner in France before his U.S. debut Sept. 26 at Santa Anita. Favored at 3-2, he finished fourth, and then ran 13th in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby.

Those races do not accurately reflect Blue Exit's ability, according to Hollendorfer. He believes the three-month break and an equipment change will produce positive results.

"He works better wearing blinkers, and he seems like he is more acclimated," Hollendorfer said

Mike Smith rides Blue Exit, who sharpened his speed Friday with a 46.80 bullet workout. While 13-for-38 graded stakes winner Zappa is the class of the field, Blue Exit could score an upset in a field that includes California-bred stakes winner Star Nicholas, Rocket Legs, and Silent Soul.

Hollendorfer will be busy Thursday. He also starts race-1 pacesetter A Cat Named Snipes, race-6 dropper Schill, and talented race-3 maiden Tuscan Evening. Though she was 0 for 11 in Europe, Tuscan Evening is a logical favorite for her U.S. debut in the maiden turf sprint off a runner-up finish in a Group 1.

"We tried to take a relatively long time to let her acclimate," Hollendorfer said. "We've brought her along slowly,"

Tuscan Evening has been with Hollendorfer "several months," and her sharp works suggest she will fire first out for him.

"I hate to be a predictor," Hollendorfer said. "We think she's doing well, and she's worked well enough to attract Garrett Gomez to ride."

Beyond her runner-up finish in a Group 1 last spring, the 4-year-old Tuscan Evening also faced top fillies as a 2-year-old, when she finished in the money in two group races in Ireland.

Her main rival Thursday is comebacker Solo Piano, who flipped in the paddock and was scratched from the ninth race Jan. 4. The incident was minor, according to trainer Bobby Frankel. Solo Piano worked six furlongs three days later and runs Thursday for the first time in five months.