03/12/2003 1:00AM

English imports add intrigue


ARCADIA, Calif. - Three weeks later than expected, Steelaninch makes his American debut in Friday's $75,000 Academy Road Stakes at Santa Anita.

He was entered for the Baldwin Stakes on the hillside turf course on Feb. 23, but was left out of the field when the race oversubscribed. The next option is the Academy Road Stakes, run at a mile for 3-year-olds.

The Academy Road field includes three imports from England - Steelaninch, Menuhin, and Temeritas - and five horses with experience on this turf course, including Singletary and Bis Repetitas, who were second and third in the Hill Rise Stakes at a mile on turf on Dec. 28.

Bis Repetitas is likely to go favored, but there will be support for Steelaninch, who won 4 of 10 starts in England last year. Steelaninch was bought last October for approximately $165,000 at the Autumn Horses-in-Training sale by Jim Ford and Deron Pearson in Newmarket, England. Jim Cassidy trains the colt.

"He's done everything I've asked him to do," Cassidy said. "He feels good and works great."

Steelaninch won races from six to seven furlongs in England. In his lone stakes appearance, he finished fifth in the six-furlong Doncaster Stakes last October.

"The only downside is his connections never raced him in a group race, and he's won four races," Cassidy said.

The two other English imports have mixed form. Menuhin has only one win, which came in a dirt race at lowly Wolverhampton, in six starts. Now trained by Wally Dollase, he has not started since finishing 13th in a minor handicap at Ayr, Scotland, last October.

Temeritas won a seven-furlong maiden race on turf at Newcastle on Oct. 2, his most recent start. Simon Bray, who has a strong record with horses making their first start in the United States, trains Temeritas.

Two of the horses who have started on this turf course are former European runners. The English import Helms Deep won a maiden race by four lengths in his U.S. debut on Feb. 22.

Bis Repetitas won two races in France before joining trainer Bobby Frankel's stable last fall. Owned by Edmund Gann, he was no factor in the Pinjara and Generous stakes before running a respectable third in the Hill Rise Stakes on Dec. 28.

Little has gone right for Singletary since the Hill Rise. Trained by Don Chatlos, he finished seventh in the Santa Catalina Stakes and fifth in an allowance race on dirt earlier this winter. He may be better with the return to turf.

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