02/21/2005 12:00AM

El Roblar won't go if it's wet

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ARCADIA, Calif. - El Roblar is one of two nominees to the Triple Crown entered in an optional claimer for sprinters in Wednesday's seventh race at Santa Anita. But El Roblar's trainer and co-owner, Bruce Headley, said the track condition will play the deciding role in whether El Roblar makes the second start of his career in the $48,000 race.

Wet weather is possible on Wednesday. An off track would keep El Roblar in the barn and postpone his first start against winners, Headley said.

"A young horse like this, with his potential, I'll be a little cautious," Headley said.

will be favored if he runs. In his debut on Jan. 23, he rallied from fifth to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race by three-quarters of a length. By War Chant, El Roblar races for Headley and Jess Jackson. He was purchased for $250,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"He runs to his looks," Headley said. "He has a great mind."

Since his debut, El Roblar has worked well. He went five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Feb. 2. On Feb. 14, El Roblar worked six furlongs in 1:13, the third-fastest of 55 works at the distance.

Wednesday, El Roblar drew the rail in a field of six. The competition is led by the race's other Triple Crown nominee, In Excelsis, an Irish import. In Excelsis is a colt by Fusaichi Pegasus, winner of the 2000 Kentucky Derby, and out of Lakeway, a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner in the 1990's.

will be making his first start for Arnold Zetcher and trainer Ron McAnally, having previously been trained by Aidan O'Brien.

In three starts in England and Ireland, In Excelsis won his debut in a maiden race, then was fifth in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 National Stakes at The Curragh in Ireland. He was beaten 10 lengths in both races.

Three of the entrants can be claimed for $80,000: Cepheus Star, Hedge Your Bet, and Wall Street Wally. Cepheus Star was third in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park in December, while Hedge Your Bet won a $62,500 claimer for maidens here on Jan. 26.

The only other entrant not being offered for a claim is Ransom Demanded. The winner of a maiden claimer at Hollywood Park in December, Ransom Demanded has been third in his last two starts - an optional claimer at seven furlongs

in the mud on Dec. 30, and an allowance race on the hillside turf course on Jan. 23.