02/09/2005 1:00AM

Borrego got rich, now can he win?

Borrego with trainer Beau Greely (right) and Andy Durnin at Pimlico last year.

ARCADIA, Calif. - For a colt that was winless in eight starts last year, Borrego put together quite a campaign.

He earned $452,190, started in the Kentucky Derby, and ran second in five stakes.

This year, trainer Beau Greely would prefer that Borrego mix in a few wins. His first opportunity comes in a $56,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Friday. Greely considers the race as a prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5 or the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 12.

"I need to get a race into the horse," Greely said. "He's doing very well. I need a spot for a confidence builder."

has not started since finishing ninth in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby on Oct. 17. He had a troubled trip in that race, over 1 1/8 miles on turf, and finished 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Greek Sun.

Friday's race marks Borrego's first start on the main track since a second in the mud to Fantasticat in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs last Sept. 25. Borrego is winless in his last eight starts, dating back to an optional claimer at Santa Anita in December 2003. He finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby and seventh in the Preakness Stakes last year.

After the Super Derby, Borrego's connections decided to keep him with 3-year-olds on turf and stay away from the nation's top older horses in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

But after the Oak Tree Derby, those plans were abandoned.

"When we put him back on turf, he didn't like it," Greely said.

Borrego was pointed for the three-race Strub Stakes series, but did not start in those races for 4-year-olds after missing too much training because of wet weather, Greely said.

"With the bad weather, I couldn't get the work in," Greely said. "I would have liked to have run him against 4-year-olds, but it's a long year."

Borrego has five rivals on Friday, but none are as accomplished as he is, or have won their last start.

, who set the pace in an optional claimer on Jan. 13 before fading to finish third, will get some support.

The race has pace. Aside from Forty Suertudo, Come Out Smokin', Sea of Silver, and Kristine's King all have shown speed.

Kristine's King was third in the Pomona Invitational last September. Trained by Jeff Mullins, he is entered to be claimed for $62,500.