04/11/2004 11:00PM

Icy Avenue returns


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Darrell Vienna wishes he had a bit more time to prepare Icy Avenue for her comeback. Nonetheless, Icy Avenue returns from an 11-month break in a $56,000 allowance race at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

"This is a little early for her," Vienna said. "[Icy Avenue] is maybe one work short, but not so much that she doesn't have a chance."

Last spring, won consecutive allowance races over a mile on turf, racing against statebreds at Santa Anita and open company at Hollywood Park.

She was sidelined with an injury following the Hollywood Park start. The injury came when Icy Avenue was in peak form.

Icy Avenue had only one win in her first seven starts, before her consecutive victories last spring.

Icy Avenue, who will be ridden by apprentice jockey Mick Ruis, has drawn post 2 in a field of seven fillies and mares, which includes two starters trained by Bobby Frankel - Light Jig and Jolie Rafaela.

Light Jig, 4, won her U.S. debut in a one-mile turf race Feb. 16, rallying from fourth to score by a length. In France last year, Light Jig had one win in seven starts and placed in two minor stakes.

Light Jig's stalking style will make her effective Wednesday in a race loaded with speed. Alozaina, a winner of 2 of 21, will also probably be a factor if there is a fast pace.

Icy Avenue is likely to be near the front along with Jolie Rafaela and Red Opal. Vienna fears that she could be too sharp after the layoff.

"I think she will be that way," he said. "That's the way she trains."

Jolie Rafaela disputed the lead through a one-mile allowance race March 11, eventually losing by three-quarters of a length to Quero Quero. Jolie Rafaela is winless in three starts since arriving from Brazil, finishing second or third in each race.

Red Opal is a sprinter who is stretching out. She beat $62,500 claimers over the hillside turf course March 10, her first start in nearly 10 months.

Tamweel drew the rail. Tamweel was second in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course March 19, her first start in this country.