12/15/2009 1:00AM

Compari will use sprint for return


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Compari came a long ways in a short amount of time earlier this year, going from an unstarted maiden to a California-bred stakes winner in three races over two months. Yet since his victory in the Snow Chief Stakes on the Gold Rush card here at Hollywood Park on April 25, he has been conspicuously absent. Thursday, as Hollywood Park starts the final four days of its fall meeting, Compari returns to the races, and appears to be in a spot to pick up right where he left off.

Compari heads the seventh race, a first-level allowance going six furlongs on turf. Because his two prior wins were both against Cal-breds, Compari is still eligible to this open, first-level allowance condition. His two best races, on turf and Cushion Track, have been around two turns, but he ran well enough in his debut sprinting in February at Santa Anita to make one believe he can fire fresh going short.

And his trainer, Marty Jones, gave Compari a big thumb's up on Tuesday morning.

"He's training great," Jones said at Hollywood Park. "I had to give him time off because of quarter cracks. We tried doing work on his feet, patching them, but it got to the point where we just needed to let his feet grow out, so we kicked him out to the farm."

Compari recuperated at Harris Farms, where he was bred, then came back into training this fall. He has a steady series of drills for his return, and Garrett Gomez, who rode him in the Snow Chief, is back aboard.

"He's probably at his best going a little farther," Jones said. "Not that he can't win sprinting, but this is a good place to get started."

Jones said there was some thought given to running in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Santa Anita's opening, day Dec. 26.

"It was an option if we couldn't get into this race," he said. "That's going to be a tough race. But this way, he gets to run here, where he's training. It's a better spot to bring him back."

Only four others entered the race, including the aptly named Returning, who has been idle for 20 months. He was a first-out winner, so he also figures to give his best effort first time back.

* Also on Thursday's card is a first-level allowance, the day's second race, for fillies and mares going one mile on turf. British invader Surprise Party, now trained by Kathy Walsh, is seeking her fourth straight win.