02/13/2008 12:00AM

Communicated finally returns

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Way back in July, Communicated made a flashy debut in a maiden race at Churchill Downs, drawing off to beat 11 rivals by 5 1/2 lengths.

It was the sort of performance that made observers eager to see more from Communicated, a son of Distorted Humor. The opportunity finally arrives at Santa Anita on Friday when Communicated starts as the likely favorite in a $52,000 allowance race over six furlongs.

Communicated was sidelined in the second half of 2007, but Michael McCarthy, who directs trainer Todd Pletcher's California stable, said all of his ailments were minor.

"He's had a bunch of little injuries, but he's back and good now," McCarthy said.

While Communicated has had six recorded workouts since Dec. 31, McCarthy is worried that the colt may not be in ideal shape for his return. Recent wet weather interrupted Communicated's schedule, he said.

"He could probably use one or two more works," McCarthy said. "If you don't run today, you have to wait weeks for another go. I think he's where he needs to be at this time of the year. It's a long year, and hopefully he'll be around for a while."

In his only start, Communicated led throughout a 6 1/2-furlong race.

"We weren't that surprised with his performance at Churchill Downs," McCarthy said.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Communicated will be near the front in Friday's race.

The field includes Oscar the Mayor, who is making his first start against winners after beating maidens at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 29 in his sixth start. Tiztime and Instant Action each won a claiming race in his last start.

Tiztime won for a $62,500 tag over six furlongs here on Jan. 21, his second win in three starts. Instant Action is on a three-race winning streak. A winner of 4 of 9 starts, Instant Action won claiming races for $10,000 and $10,500 at Hollywood Park in the fall for trainer Doug O'Neill and a $25,000 claiming race on Jan. 18 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who claimed him on Dec. 21.

Trainer Mike Marlow had an eye on Instant Action late last year, and won a four-way shake for the 4-year-old gelding on Jan. 18. Marlow said the jump in class to an allowance race is worth the gamble.

"He looks like a pretty solid horse," Marlow said. "We're going to give him a chance to step up and see if he's that good. If it doesn't work out, we can go back to the claim."