11/08/2006 1:00AM

Cut Trail often close, rarely wins


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There is nothing flashy about Cut Trail. A 4-year-old gelding trained by Neil Drysdale, Cut Trail has just one win in 14 starts and has been second or third in nine races.

But the consistency Cut Trail has shown frequently makes him a contender. In Friday's fifth race at Hollywood Park, Cut Trail is likely to be favored in a $46,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on turf for statebreds.

Cut Trail is one of nine entrants in the race, which is part of an eight-race program that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific.

Ideally, the distance of Friday's race would be longer, Drysdale said. Such races for statebreds are rare, however.

"He's a nine-furlong horse, so the farther the better," Drysdale said.

In his last start, over a mile at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 19, Cut Trail rallied from last in a field of seven to finish second, 2o1/2 lengths behind Ferndale Sal.

Owned by Stephen Ferraro, Cut Trail beat maidens in his 11th start, over 1 1/16 miles on turf here in May. He followed with a second in the Quicken Tree Stakes for statebreds over 1 1/2 miles on turf on June 18 and was fifth in an optional claimer at Del Mar in August.

"He just grinds it out," Drysdale said.

The recent start at Santa Anita was Cut Trail's first in more than two months.

Cut Trail adds blinkers for Friday's race, the first time he has worn the equipment since finishing third in a maiden claimer here in May 2005.

Other contenders include Beautifier, who was third behind Ferndale Sal and Cut Trail on Oct. 19; Blind Harry, the runner-up in an allowance race on Oct. 21; and Hot Grip, the winner of his last start on Oct. 29.

Beautifier is making the longest turf start of his career, having been second and third in two starts on the surface over a mile. Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Beautifier has 1 victory in 9 starts.

Blind Harry finished second on Santa Anita's hillside turf course on Oct. 21. Trained by Denise Breuer, Blind Harry won a starter allowance over 1 1/8 miles on turf here in May.

Hot Grip, 6, is the winningest horse in the field, with 7 victories in 49 starts. Trained by Bob Bean, Hot Grip has won two of his last four starts - a $12,500 claimer in August and a $25,000 claimer on Oct. 29. Both wins came at Bay Meadows.