04/08/2004 12:00AM

Erewhon can prove he's tops on turf


ARCADIA, Calif. - The promise that Erewhon has shown since switching to turf earlier this year could result in a win in Saturday's $100,000 La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita.

has run twice on turf, winning a maiden race in January and finishing second in the Pasadena Stakes last month. Those races have left trainer Wally Dollase hopeful that Erewhon can develop into a top 3-year-old on the turf this year.

Run over a mile on turf, the La Puente is Erewhon's first major test.

"Let's face it: He's a nice horse," Dollase said. "I think he'll improve every race."

The La Puente Stakes is the first six-figure turf stakes of the year for 3-year-olds in California.

The nine entrants in the La Puente include Seattle Borders, who won the Baldwin Stakes on the hillside turf course in February; Four Song Limit, who was third in the Pasadena; and Terroplane, who was fourth in the Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park last November.

may go favored. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Seattle Borders followed his win in the Baldwin Stakes with a second in the El Camino Real Derby on dirt at Golden Gate Fields on March 13, losing by a half-length to Kilgowan.

Erewhon began his career on dirt, but showed little in those races, finishing 10th and sixth. Owned by the Niarchos family, Erewhon returned to win a one-mile maiden race on turf by 3 1/2 lengths on Jan. 28.

In the Pasadena Stakes, Erewhon rallied from seventh to finish a head behind Unrivalled. Dollase said Erewhon sometimes surprises his exercise riders in the mornings by working so easily that he goes faster than expected.

"He has the talent," Dollase said. "He does everything so easily; he's very athletic."

Four of the nine entrants began their careers in Europe - Gwaihir, Moulin de Mougins, Terroplane, and Toasted.

Gwaihir was the most accomplished overseas, winning a restricted race and finishing second in the Group 3 Prix Thomas Byron in France last October.

None of the quartet has won in this country, but Terroplane ran a respectable race in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes, his U.S debut.

Terroplane raced through traffic in the stretch to finish five lengths behind Castledale, who won the Santa Anita Derby last Saturday.

"He had a lot of trouble in that race," trainer Neil Drysdale said of Terroplane. "The plan was to go for the Generous off the plane, back off, and go for the summer races."