01/06/2007 12:00AM

E Z Warrior faces two who look sharp


ARCADIA, Calif. - E Z Warrior has the reputation. Desert Code and Noble Court have the sharp recent form. The classic question of class versus form will come into play Saturday in the $75,000-added San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita, when those three colts, plus three others, square off going six furlongs.

E Z Warrior was the best early-developing 2-year-old in California last summer, when he won both his starts, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. He did not train satisfactorily later in the summer and into the fall, when he was bothered by sore shins, and though he does show a strong series of recent workouts, there is still a cloud over his head. He also drew the rail, and should be favored. Is he worth the gamble?

He is if he comes back as good as he left, but that is not guaranteed - not when he hasn't raced for six months. And there is the very real possibility that his main goals are later this meet.

In addition, E Z Warrior is facing a pair of colts who come off sharp maiden wins within the last month at Hollywood Park.

Desert Code romped by 5 3/4 lengths in his first start on this circuit and first for trainer David Hofmans, who took over after a private purchase following Desert Code's second start, in New York.

"He's been very forward the whole time we've had him," Hofmans said at Hollywood on Friday. "He's always acted like a real smart horse. He's a sprinter-type, with a good mind."

Desert Code drew post 4, one spot inside of Noble Court. Under the conditions of the race, both were assigned five fewer pounds than E Z Warrior.

Noble Court was a good second in his debut, then beat maidens by four lengths in his second start. He is a grandson of two Kentucky Derby winners - Seattle Slew and Grindstone - so he should do well going longer. But his trainer, John Sadler, decided to wait one more start before going long.

"I hope I'm not being too ambitious running here instead of an allowance race," Sadler said. "My horse is a pretty nice horse. He's improving. I could have gone long, or once more in a sprint. It's more of a feel kind of thing."

Colonel Chick defeated Noble Court in a maiden race at Hollywood, then broke horribly going long in his next start. He is returning to a sprint, and is a threat off his maiden win.