02/24/2003 12:00AM

Crafty C.T. makes a new start


ARCADIA, Calif. - Last year, Crafty C.T. started in four Grade 1 races from May to November, but finished second or third after finding trouble or racing wide in each one.

This Sunday, Crafty C.T. tries to end that losing streak in top races when he makes his first start of the year in the $200,000 San Carlos Handicap over seven furlongs, the only Grade 1 sprint stakes at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Trainer Howard Zucker warns that Crafty C.T. is not 100 percent ready for the San Carlos, but the 5-year-old horse will face weaker opposition than he met in Grade 1 races last year.

Last May, Crafty C.T. finished third behind Swept Overboard in the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park after a wide trip. In October, Crafty C.T. was second to Kalookan Queen in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap after a slow start. He followed that with a close third to Orientate in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, missing by a length after a wide rally.

In his final start of 2002, Crafty C.T. finished a well-beaten third behind Congaree in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile after being forced to check in traffic on the turn.

Following the Cigar Mile, Zucker began planning a 2003 campaign. He hoped to start Crafty C.T. in an allowance race in early February but the race did not draw sufficient entries.

"I think he's done enough," Zucker said of Crafty C.T.'s preparation for the San Carlos. "I don't think he's as tight as he would be if he was going race to race. I only lightened up on him for a month; it wasn't like he had a prolonged vacation. He should be pretty ready to go, probably 85 or 90 percent. It's a long year ahead."

Owned by Carl Grether, Crafty C.T. will be attempting to win his first stakes since the 2001 San Rafael Stakes over this track. Patrick Valenzuela has the mount on Crafty C.T.

Crafty C.T.'s main opponents will not be confirmed until midweek. Trainer Bruce Headley may start Kona Gold, the 2000 champion sprint winner. The 9-year-old Kona Gold won the El Conejo Handicap on Jan. 1, but finished sixth in the Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 26.

Other candidates include Grey Memo, Mellow Fellow, Roman Dancer, Total Limit, and Tough Game.

Warren Stute trains Grey Memo, who was third in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. Grey Memo is being pointed to the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 29, a race he won last year.

Feature-worthy undercard stakes

Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap program will have two outstanding stakes on the undercard - the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf and the $200,000 San Rafael Stakes over a mile for 3-year-olds.

Good Journey, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Mile and won the Citation Handicap last fall, leads the Kilroe Mile field.

Good Journey is the 124-pound topweight. Trained by Wally Dollase, Good Journey will be sent to stud in Australia this summer, but will be campaigned through the spring.

Good Journey will be part of a large field that is expected to include Alyzig, Apache Wings, Cayoke, Century City, Decarchy, Music's Storm, Night Life, Redattore, Seinne, and Smirk.

Smirk is based in England and was scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita late Monday. Trained by David Elsworth, Smirk has won two of his last three starts, but has not raced since November when he won the Ben Marshall Stakes at Newmarket, England.

The field for the San Rafael Stakes will have a rare import from Central America.

Indian Express, a Utah-bred colt by Indian Charlie, will make his first start in the United States after two victories in Panama last fall. Racing in sprints on dirt, Indian Express won a maiden race and an $8,000 stakes, winning each race by 10 3/4 lengths.

Owned by Phil Chess, Indian Express joined trainer Bob Baffert's stable in January.

"He's one-paced and he wants to run all day," Baffert said. David Flores has the mount on Indian Express.

The San Rafael field is expected to include Omega Code, the winner of the San Miguel Stakes on Jan. 12; Excessivepleasure, who was second in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25; and Sum Trick, the runner-up to Kafwain in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1.

Other probable starters are Just Wonder, Our Bobby V., and Spensive, who was third in the Sham Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 7.

Siberland pronounced fit

Siberland, the winner of three stakes in the last seven months, was being considered for the San Rafael until trainer Kevin Lewis become concerned with the colt's condition following a workout last week.

But after a battery of tests over the weekend, including a nuclear scan, Siberland was pronounced fit by veterinarians to continue training, Lewis said.

"I'm doing back flips," Lewis said. "I think it was just a muscle problem. The nuke scan came back clean. I hit the panic button a little early, but I didn't want to screw the colt up."

Lewis said Siberland will be considered for the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita over 1 1/16 miles on March 16, a prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

"I walked him for three days and I think I can get a couple of works in him," Lewis said.

Azeri works

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, had her first workout of 2003 on Saturday, breezing a half-mile in 47 seconds at the San Luis Rey Downs training center.

According to trainer Laura de Seroux, Azeri galloped out five furlongs in 59 seconds and six furlongs in 1:12.60 under exercise rider Brian Eide. A 5-year-old, Azeri remains on target for the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 5.

"It's farther away than I would prefer," de Seroux said of the Apple Blossom. "After the work we said, 'What will we do now?' We might spread out her works and go every seven or eight days. Obviously, she will get ready quick."

Azeri has not started since winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff last October at Arlington Park, her seventh consecutive win. She was scheduled to be sold on March 4 as part of a dispersal of the Allen Paulson Living Trust, but the beneficiaries reached an out-of-court agreement earlier this month that allows Azeri to continue racing for the Trust.

During the dispute, Azeri was limited to light training.

"Maybe the imbroglio has worked to our benefit," de Seroux said. "She's stronger and more mature."

Tracemark gets new trainer

Tracemark, the winner of the 2002 California Derby who placed in two stakes at this meeting, was one of six horses recently transferred by owner Edward McGrath from trainer Craig Dollase to Alex Sacque.

The 4-year-old Tracemark, who was third in the Strub Stakes on Feb. 1, is being considered for the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on Sunday, McGrath said.

Sacque is an assistant trainer to Simon Bray and had previously worked for Richard Mandella.

Outta Here still Dubai-bound

Outta Here, the winner of the Delta Jackpot Stakes in December, is being trained up to the $2 million UAE Derby, to be held in Dubai on March 29, trainer Bill Currin said.

On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Outta Here worked six furlongs in 1:12.80.

Currin said that Outta Here would leave for the Middle East on March 13 or 15. He also said that he is concerned that his plans could be disrupted by conflict between the United States and Iraq.

Currin intended to prep Outta Here in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park last week, but said: "I ran out of time. I don't want to take my eye off the ball, and the ball is Dubai."

* Final Destination, the winner of the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 17, will not start again for the rest of the meeting. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Final Destination will be pointed for the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap over a mile on turf April 27 an early goal.