12/15/2008 12:00AM

Carona Time gets audition

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For Carona Time to start in the lucrative stakes in the Sunshine Millions races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita next month, he must run well in an optional claimer for statebreds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday.

Carona Time, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Dan Hendricks, has not started since finishing sixth in the California Cup Starter Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 5. The race may have been too far, considering that Carona Time has been most effective between a mile and 1 1/16 miles on turf this year.

That consistency, finishing in the first three in 7 of 10 starts this year, gives Hendricks confidence that Carona Time can run well on Wednesday.

"We want to get him going again," Hendricks said. "It's time."

Carona Time has run primarily on turf this year. Wednesday's race at 1 1/16 miles is his first start on a synthetic main track since a second-place finish in a $25,000 claimer here in May.

"We've never been scared to run" on the main track, Hendricks said. "We feel he fits in that spot. He's a horse that seems to go out and try most times we run him."

Hendricks said the Sunshine Millions is in the "back of our minds," depending on Wednesday's result.

The race has drawn a field of eight. Typical of a first-condition optional claimer, none of the runners is a stakes winner.

Three entrants won claiming races in their last starts: Nima's Pad, One Track Mind, and Peachy Canyon.

C.T. Zee came close to a stakes win in 2007, finishing second by a nose in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes. C.T. Zee has made one subsequent start, finishing last of six in an allowance race for statebreds here in May 2007.

A 4-year-old gelding owned by a partnership, C.T. Zee was trained by Nick Hines at the time, and has since been turned over to Eric Guillot.

In recent weeks, C.T. Zee has worked quickly over six furlongs. Guillot said the gelding will be better served by starting in a two-turn race than a sprint, even if he does not win Wednesday's race.

"I know he's a route horse and not a sprinter," Guillot said. "I'd rather run him and let him get tired [in this race] than run him in a sprint and then give him another race after that."