08/21/2001 12:00AM

Crafty C.T. returns in allowance


DEL MAR, Calif. - After one aborted comeback effort, Crafty C.T. starts anew at Del Mar on Thursday in a one-mile allowance race designed to start his fall campaign. He faces nine rivals, none of whom has accomplished as much as Crafty C.T., and none of whom are as talented.

But which Crafty C.T. will show up? Will it be the Crafty C.T. who was dazzling this winter at Santa Anita, when he won the San Rafael Stakes and finished second in the Santa Anita Derby to Point Given? Or will it be the Crafty C.T. who laid an egg as the 3-10 favorite in a nonwinners-of-two allowance sprint at Hollywood Park on June 24, finishing fourth in a five-horse field?

Howard Zucker, Crafty C.T.'s trainer, believes the real Crafty C.T. will be back. He said the 3-year-old colt has trained sharply at Del Mar this summer. But Zucker also is making a few changes. He wants Crafty C.T. to settle better, and has been training the colt with that goal in mind. He also is making a jockey switch, with Mike Smith replacing Eddie Delahoussaye, who had ridden Crafty C.T. in his five previous starts.

"I thought we would regroup after the Santa Anita Derby, but the way his last start went, we have to regroup again," Zucker said Tuesday morning at his Del Mar stable. "I want to see how he does with a little different style, and a little different style of rider. Mike's been working him, and he's been rating for him. I don't want him to take back, just take a little hold, and see if he runs that way."

Crafty C.T. has put on some much-needed weight since the spring. He was carrying little flesh before the Santa Anita Derby, prompting Zucker to give the colt a break following his four-race Santa Anita campaign.

"He's put a lot of weight on. The problem always has been him carrying enough weight," Zucker said. "He's a lot more muscled."

Crafty C.T.'s main rival figures to be So Urgent, who finished second in a similar spot on July 29. He came into that race on just 11 days' rest, and got weary in the final sixteenth and was caught by Figlio Mio. With his sharp speed, and an inside post, So Urgent should take up the early running.

Argentine newcomer Not for Me makes his first start in this country for trainer Pico Perdomo. Not for Me was a Group 3 winner in his native land, and has turned in a strong series of works for this race.

Go to Del Mar coverage.

for entries.

Subscribers, to purchase Past Performances.

Non-subscribers, to purchase Past Performances.