03/26/2002 12:00AM

It's showtime for Calkins Road

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ARCADIA, Calif. - After being scratched twice in early March, Calkins Road is ready to face winners for the first time in a $57,000 allowance race for California-breds at Santa Anita on Thursday.

The race has significant long-term ramifications for the colt. If Calkins Road, 3, runs well, he will be considered for the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-old California-breds at Hollywood Park on April 28.

The race has been a springtime goal for Calkins Road since he won his maiden on Feb. 7.

Trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Tom and Deborah Shapiro, Calkins Road was withdrawn from the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes on March 2 and the Academy Road Stakes on March 14 in favor of Thursday's first-condition allowance race.

"We've been waiting for the right spot," Shirreffs said.

Run over 1 1/16 miles, Thursday's race has drawn seven statebreds.

Calkins Road won his maiden in his third start, which was run over a mile. He won by two lengths in 1:37.74. Laffit Pincay Jr., who was aboard for the maiden race, has the mount on Thursday.

"I was really impressed with his last race when he broke his maiden," Shirreffs said. "It was a good time and a good race."

A stalker, Calkins Road should have ample pace to chase on Thursday.

El Nuki, who has won his last two starts, is expected to lead in his first start beyond six furlongs. Trained by Vladimir Cerin for owners David and Holly Wilson, El Nuki was claimed for $40,000 last October.

Highly Suspect, a maiden winner over 1 1/16 miles on March 6, and Gobi Dan, who has placed in three races at this meeting, are other leading contenders.

The statebred allowance is one of three allowance or optional claiming races on Thursday's program.

In the second race, Staging Post, an impressive winner in his U.S. debut on March 7, will start as favorite for trainer Bobby Frankel in an optional claimer over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The race has drawn five runners, including The Tin Man, who has won three of his last four, and Harrisand, who was ninth in the Travers Stakes last August in his only appearance on dirt.

In the seventh race, Tell Them Nothing, winner of a maiden race at 57-1 on Feb. 23, starts in a one-mile allowance race for 3-year-olds on turf. The race drew seven, including Dark Sorcerer, who was third in the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes on Feb. 24.

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