11/29/2004 12:00AM

Iced Out's maiden win creates a stir

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ALBANY, Calif. - Greg James has a promising 2-year-old named Iced Out in his barn. Although Iced Out hasn't really accomplished much yet, winning a $32,000 maiden claimer in his second start at Golden Gate Fields last Friday, the way he won had owner-breeders, Dr. and Mrs. William Gray, weighing six-figure offers for the colt.

"It's a great feeling, really nice," James said.

Comparisons are often overstated and unfair, and it's a stretch to mention Iced Out in the same breath as Ema Bovary, a multiple graded-stakes-winning female sprinter. But Iced Out's victory was reminiscent of Ema Bovary's first race here, when she broke very tardily and then tried to bolt toward the temporary rail out of the chute.

Iced Out broke slowly, was squeezed back, and then ducked in toward the rail. He was nearly 12 lengths behind the leader, Chargins on J, at the first call.

Iced Out, bet down to 2-1 favoritism after being 12-1 on the morning line, was allowed to settle down, made a sweeping five-wide move on the turn, and won going away, finishing 7 1/2 lengths in front of first-timer Totalitarian, who was claimed. Iced Out earned a 67 Beyer Speed Figure.

He did it without ever being asked by jockey Chad Schvaneveldt.

"The last thing Greg said in the paddock was to make him learn something," Schvaneveldt said. "Once he got squeezed at the start, he ducked in when he got dirt in his face. After that, there was no use in trying to rush him. I let him get his legs under him and then get into the race.

"With better horses, he might not catch up," he said. "I didn't hit him, just made sure he had room. I've been on a lot of horses that closed like that and then flattened, but he kept going. I think he's going to improve."

James was "way pleased" with Iced Out's performance.

He said Iced Out, a son of Comic Strip out of the Patton mare Patented, had been working well, but he had "never done anything that great."

"To be right honest, I didn't know he would run like that," James said. "I was really kind of surprised."

He complimented Schvaneveldt, first for giving Iced Out a chance to get in gear on his own, and then for recognizing that a wide trip would provide a trouble-free journey.

James now has plenty of options to discuss with the owners, including going in a starter race before testing first-level allowance runners.

"If it were my colt, that's exactly the way I'd go and run through his conditions," James said. "I'd like to try him next in a starter going a mile. I always thought he'd go two turns."

Chinese Checkers takes to the turf

Wednesday's feature, a $40,000 starter allowance for 2-year-olds at one mile, should interest handicappers because it is on the turf. Only two of the eight entrants have run on the turf, with Chinese Checkers winning his maiden on grass. King Mobay ran eighth after sitting just off pacesetting Chinese Checkers that day.

"He's definitely bred to go on the grass," said Aggie Ordonez, who trains Chinese Checkers.

After finishing seventh in his debut in a strong $32,000 maiden sprint, Chinese Checkers won his second start, going wire-to-wire in a 7 1/2-furlong straight maiden turf race.

"He was routing for the first time, he was on grass for the first time, and wore blinkers for the first time, Ordonez said.

"I'm not sure it was just the grass that made him win. The blinkers helped a lot. He worked so much better the first time with blinkers. It woke him up. He's bred to go on the grass, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up to get on the turf early as a 2-year-old."

Four of the eight runners in Wednesday's race won their maiden in races around two turns, including Isla Vista, who beat a bottom-level $12,500 maiden claiming field in his debut.

"I'm anxious to try him on the turf," trainer Steve Miyadi said. "He's bred for turf, being by Dynaformer."

Isla Vista has little speed, which is another reason Miyadi wants to try turf, which generally plays kinder to off-the-pace runners than the main track does.

Fund-raising auction starts Saturday

The Glen Ellen Vocational Academy's primary fund-raising drive begins Saturday with its annual stallion auction. The auction supports retired and rehabilitating horses. Bidding runs through Dec. 12 with $500 minimum bids and $50 incremental raises.

Bidding is done online at www.glenellenfarms.com/geva. For more information, call (707) 527-8092.

* Apprentice rider Juan Avila escaped injury when Shootin' Z Bull ducked in and jumped the rail after entering the stretch in a maiden turf race Saturday. Avila suffered bruises but rode again Sunday.