08/05/2005 11:00PM

Comebacking Greenie gives turf a try

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Nearly a year after a successful 3-year-old season was cut short by injury, Greenie makes his 2005 debut on Monday at Del Mar in a turf sprint that marks his debut on that surface.

Greenie is one of 10 entrants in a $61,000 optional claimer over five furlongs on turf, a race that will have a safety limit of eight starters. Greenie has drawn post 4, and is likely to utilize his speed to gain an early advantage.

The strategy worked when Greenie won his last start, a seven-length victory in an optional claimer over six furlongs at Bay Meadows last September. Unfortunately for owner Ed Allred and trainer Art Sherman, Greenie emerged from that race with a bone chip in his knee.

Prepping for Monday's race, Sherman worked Greenie over three furlongs in 35.20 seconds on Saturday.

"I blew him out on the grass to see how he would act, and he went very well," Sherman said. "He likes to hear his feet rattle and I think he'll enjoy the turf.

"He's a pretty cool horse. I've always been high on this horse since I got him. If he stays sound, he could get in a stakes."

Sherman has a solid record with horses returning from layoffs. He is optimistic that Greenie can continue that trend.

"You always think he might need a race, but I've got a good foundation on him," Sherman said. "I got a feeling that this type of horse going five furlongs on turf, he can be pretty tough. I've always wanted to run him on the turf."

Greenie faces a group dominated by closers. Celtic Sword, Crosscut, and Sex Machine won from off the pace over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park.

Crosscut was second in his last start to Grimm, who is stuck on the also-eligible list of Monday's race. Crosscut has not been worse than third in five starts.

Celtic Sword, who has made two starts in two years, won an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf on July 9, his only start this year. He is trained by Julio Canani, who won with half of his first 12 starters at this meeting.

Sex Machine, an 8-year-old gelding, scored three consecutive wins in $40,000 claimers at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park during the winter and spring.