04/15/2008 11:00PM

California Blaze starting fresh


ARCADIA, Calif. - The career of California Blaze begins anew in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Friday, more than five months after his 2-year-old campaign ended with a seventh-place finish in the California Cup Juvenile.

Trained by Darrell Vienna for breeder Charlotte Wrather, California Blaze has worked quickly for his return, which comes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. Vienna is hopeful that California Blaze can repeat his career debut, a victory in a maiden race against open company on the hillside turf course last October.

"He's ready to go," Vienna said. "He had a short time off. I think he's shown a natural progression from 2 to 3."

Friday's race, which carries a purse of $52,000, has drawn a field of 10, three of whom are entered to be claimed.

Vienna was not overly concerned over California Blaze's loss in the California Cup Juvenile. Sent off at 24-1, he was third to early stretch before fading.

"He came out with a little injury, so the race can be dismissed," Vienna said. "We might have been a little ambitious."

While California Blaze is racing in his home state, 4 of the 10 entrants began their careers in Europe. Three of them are running for the first time in this country - Ernie Owl, trained by Jim Cassidy; In Honour, trained by Eoin Harty; and Premier Yank, trained by Matt Chew.

Premier Yank won his last start, on the fibresand track at Southwell, while Ernie Owl and In Honour finished 10th on turf in their last start.

Enactment will be making his second start in the United States after a 10th-place finish in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on March 24. Trained by Carla Gaines, Enactment wore blinkers in his U.S. debut. He raced near a fast pace until the field crossed onto the main turf course, and quickly faded.

Enactment will not be wearing blinkers on Friday.

"I hope he'll slow down," Gaines said, adding that Enactment has worked well since his last race.

Friday's race includes two runners from the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes on the hillside turf course on March 2: D. Double You, who finished third, and Returning, who was fifth. D. Double You returned to finish seventh as the 8-5 favorite against a similar field on March 24.