12/30/2006 12:00AM

Dubai winner launches his comeback


ARCADIA, Calif. - Proud Tower Too, the winner of four consecutive sprints, has largely been forgotten since his win in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai last March.

He missed the rest of 2006 mainly because of injury. During his absence, Proud Tower Too's accomplishments were overshadowed by the success of other sprinters.

Proud Tower Too is back for 2007, making his comeback in Monday's $100,00 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita. Trainer Sal Gonzalez has the Golden Shaheen on March 31 as a goal for Proud Tower Too. To get there, the 5-year-old Proud Tower Too needs to prove he is at his best in the Grade 3 El Conejo, which is run over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Proud Tower Too, the 121-pound highweight, has only four recorded workouts since he returned to training, all in the last month, but Gonzalez is not concerned.

"He has responded well," Gonzalez said. "We got a good foundation in him at the farm. I think he's ready. I hope he's ready."

Gonzalez described Proud Tower Too's recent training as "very aggressive."

"The first three works he worked by himself," he said. "The other day I worked him five lengths behind another horse. When they turned for home, he was all over him."

Proud Tower Too is best from the front, a style he used to win the 2005 On Trust Handicap and Malibu Stakes and the 2006 Sensational Star and Golden Shaheen. He is capable of running a sub-44-second half-mile, which often leaves his rivals hopelessly in arrears.

Proud Tower Too's only loss in the last 13 months was an 11th in the Sunshine Millions Classic over 1 1/8 miles last January.

If Proud Tower Too is not fully fit, he will face a stern challenge from several contenders.

Trainer Doug O'Neill has three starters - Areyoutalkintome, Harvard Avenue, and Roi Charmant.

Areyoutalkintome won the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar in September, but has lost three subsequent starts, including a 13th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Harvard Avenue, 6, won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande BC Handicap here in April 2005, his most recent stakes win. Harvard Avenue won his last start, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race in November.

Roi Charmant drew the rail and has the speed to be an early factor. Premium Saltine and Bushwacker also have speed. Red Warrior, the winner of the 2005 Sunshine Millions Sprint but idle since June, is a threat from off the pace.