02/18/2009 1:00AM

Elysium Fields may be rusty

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Elysium Fields was considered a top Kentucky Derby prospect last year, a position erased by an 11th-place finish in the Florida Derby. A month later, he was out of training.

Nearly a year later, Elysium Fields has resumed training with Neil Drysdale in Southern California. The colt's 4-year-old debut occurs in the seventh race at Santa Anita on Thursday, a $52,000 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles.

It is a race that Elysium Fields can win, though Drysdale played the role of cautious trainer when asked about his expectations for the colt.

"He's training well," Drysdale said. "He might need a race. He's an attractive, well-made horse. I hope he has a future in front of him."

Owned by breeder Robert Evans, Elysium Fields has 1 win in 6 starts, and has already showed outstanding form.

Previously trained by Barclay Tagg, Elysium Fields needed four races to beat maidens and followed that performance with a highly-regarded second-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February 2008.

In the Florida Derby, Elysium Fields was never a factor, finishing 44 lengths behind the winner, Big Brown.

Elysium Fields joined Drysdale's stable last fall and had his first recorded workout on Dec. 24. He has worked quickly at times in recent weeks, including two seven-furlong workouts at Hollywood Park earlier this month.

Thursday's race has drawn seven runners, including four horses that have won at this meeting.

Nima's Pad won an optional claimer for statebreds at 1 1/16 miles here on Jan. 11, but finished 11th in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream on Jan. 24.

A Big To'do, Lowther Street, and Royal Seal won their last starts. A Big To'do and Lowther Street won maiden special weight races in recent weeks. Lowther Street scored a smart win by 3 3/4 lengths against only three opponents in a one-mile race on Jan. 23, his sixth career start.

Royal Seal has won back-to-back races, but would need to show further improvement to be a factor in this race. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, Royal Seal won a maiden race for $25,000 claimers on Dec. 31 and a $25,000 claimer for nonwinners of two on Jan. 25. In both races, he rallied from well off the pace to reach the front in the final furlong.