01/12/2005 12:00AM

At long last, turf racing returns


ARCADIA, Calif. - The turf course will still be wet, which is fine for the top 3-year-old filly Conveyor's Angel, most likely winner of the $75,000 Blue Norther Stakes on Friday at Santa Anita.

The mile race is one of two grass races Friday, the first time the course will have been used since Dec. 27, as Santa Anita emerges from two weeks of rain. Even though the weather has turned downright agreeable - clear skies and 62 degrees midweek - there will be much uncertainty regarding the condition of the turf course, and fitness of horses who missed training.

"We've been able to get [Conveyor's Angel] to the track between raindrops," trainer Chris Paasch said, adding that because of strong morning gallops, "she's got plenty of wind in her."

, runner-up in the slower division of the Miesque.

The Blue Norther, for 3-year-old fillies, is carded as race 7 and is the second stakes on the card. In race 3, graded stakes winner Miss Loren and Cal-bred stakes winner Valentine Dancer head a field of six in the $75,000 Paseana Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

The card also includes a one-other-than allowance for 3-year-olds, led by Stormin Away. His effort in the 1 1/16-mile race will provide insight into the form of several top 3-year-olds. In his last start, Stormin Away finished second to Diligent Prospect; one race back he ran third behind San Rafael Stakes probables Chips Are Down, and Spanish Chestnut. Scipion is also entered.

The Blue Norther is the second turf race Friday; older maidens race a mile on grass in race 4. More than 17 inches of rain have fallen since the start of the meet, and Steve Guise, the director of grounds, expects the course to be plenty moist even after three days of sun.

"It has a lot of organic material in the top four inches, and those fibers cause reduced drainage," Guise said. The temporary rails will be set at 24 feet Friday, and move to 15 feet for the Saturday card.

Conveyor's Angel won a maiden race by six lengths on a "good" course at Calder.

"I'll go out on a limb and say this filly may be special," Paasch said. "She has an unbelievable turn of foot."

Conveyor's Angel gives five pounds to Royal Copenhagen, who has finished first or second in her four career starts.