10/16/2007 12:00AM

Legate looks comfortable on surface

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - As he nears the end of his 3-year-old season, Legate is showing signs of getting his act together. He won his maiden race in his seventh start at Del Mar over the summer, giving owners John and Jerry Amerman and trainer David Hofmans hope that he will continue to show improvement.

In Thursday's seventh race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, Legate will try something new - an optional claimer at 1 1/4 miles on the synthetic main track. The race will be his first start on the surface since he finished ninth at 44-1 in a maiden race at Hollywood Park last November.

But in recent weeks, Hofmans has noticed that Legate has trained well on Santa Anita's main track.

"He seems to like the track, so we'll give it a shot," Hofmans said.

Legate was fifth in his last start, an optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on turf here on Sept. 26, a loss Hofmans dismissed.

"He had a troubled trip last time and we think he wants to go farther," he said. "He was very immature, and it's taken him a while to grow up."

Legate is part of an eight-horse field in a rare race at 1 1/4 miles on the main track. The race has not drawn a strong field. Booyah is the only entrant who won his last start, a 13-1 upset in a Sept. 22 optional claimer on a sloppy track at Fairplex Park.

Barry Abrams will start Add Heat, with an eye on bringing the 4-year-old colt back in the $250,000 California Cup Classic here on Nov. 3.

Add Heat is winless in nine starts this year, but was sixth, beaten two lengths, in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 29. He closed from 10th in a field of 11, giving Abrams encouragement that he can be effective over a longer trip.

"The distance shouldn't be a problem," he said.

Abrams said the losing streak has been part of a learning experience for Add Heat.

"He used to go to the front, and now he comes from off the pace," he said.

At Del Mar, Add Heat was sixth in the Cougar II Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf, a loss Abrams blamed on the colt being too eager.

"He made a premature move because he was rank," Abrams said. "I don't think a mile and a quarter will bother him. It's a matter of getting him to relax."