10/26/2005 12:00AM

Celtic Sword can use closing kick

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The mile turf allowance that is the seventh-race feature Friday at Santa Anita presents a dilemma for handicappers. None of the five starters will race under optimum conditions.

may be favored despite never having raced beyond a sprint. Scheffer moves up in class after a neck victory in a two-other-than allowance. If the win was as good as the 1:32.93 clocking, then the horse he beat by a neck, Masterpiece, will have run well Wednesday. Masterpiece was the 6-5 program favorite in Wednesday's race 7.

The three other starters Friday include Terroplane, a stakes-placed gray who has earned a reputation as an underachiever. His last race was a third-place finish Aug. 18 at Del Mar in a restricted stakes in which he was the odds-on favorite.

returns from Hastings Park in Canada, and while colt's 5-for-15 record gives him more wins than any in the field, his two starts on grass resulted in off-the-board finishes. As for Saint Buddy, trainer Rafael Becerra hopes a drop in class and a more aggressive strategy results in a better placing than his last-place effort in a stakes race at Fairplex.

"The only chance we have is to be on the lead, and he was not pushed [early]," Becerra said.

was the 7-2 second choice in the race, but he had a tough trip on the first turn, made a middle move, then flattened out and ran last.

"He needs to be in the race," Becerra said, and new jockey Jon Court is expected to put the gray on or near the lead.

Saint Buddy has won 3 of 20 races, and Becerra is correct in his analysis of Saint Buddy's chances to win the Friday feature.

"I think he fits in there," the trainer said.

It does not make him the winner, however. Celtic Sword, a deep-closing gray, rallied from far back to finish fourth in a sprint stakes Oct. 1, and if he can provide a similar kick in his first try around two turns, he fits.

Trained by Julio Canani, Celtic Sword will be ridden by Martin Pedroza. The 6-year-old gelding has won 4 of 8 races.

The horse to beat on Friday may be Scheffer. A son of Elusive Quality, Scheffer won 2 of 4 in France before he was imported to the United States and transferred to trainer Laura de Seroux.

Scheffer finished last in his comeback sprint on dirt, improved to fourth in a two-other-than allowance, then put it all together Sept. 7 to win by a neck in fast time.