10/10/2007 12:00AM

More Ore resumes racing

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Nearly two years ago, More Ore seemed on the verge of his second win while running in allowance races for California-breds. That was before he suffered a condylar fracture of a cannon bone in January 2006.

On Friday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, More Ore makes his return in an optional claimer over a mile on turf for statebreds. Once again, he is capable of winning, despite the lengthy layoff. Friday's seventh race has drawn a weak field, and Paco Gonzalez, who trains More Ore, is optimistic that 5-year-old gelding can run well.

"I want to run him a mile the first time" back, Gonzalez said. "He's not a sprinter. He's good to go.

"He's had plenty of works. He runs the mile pretty good."

Owned by John and Cheryl Toffan, More Ore has 1 victory in 8 starts, a maiden race for statebreds at Hollywood Park in November 2004. In six subsequent starts over the next 13 months, his best finishes were two seconds.

Gonzalez, who trained such famous horses as Came Home and Free House for John Toffan, has a small stable at Santa Anita. Gonzalez is seeking his second win of the year and first at the Oak Tree meeting.

Friday's race lacks a standout. Trainer Nick Hines has two starters that ran well in their last start - Ballestero and Iron Duke. Ballestero was third in an optional claimer for statebreds at Del Mar on Aug. 5, beaten a length. Ballestero closed from eighth in a field of 10.

Iron Duke will be a longer price. He has won his last two races, a maiden claimer and a $22,500 claimer for nonwinners of two, and has never run on turf.

The race drew 12, and will be limited to 10 starters. Master Heat is one of four horses eligible to be claimed for $32,000. Trained by Jeff Metz, Master Heat was third in an optional claimer for statebreds on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 29 and returned to finish third in a similar field on dirt at Fairplex Park on Sept. 16.

Lil Mitch, entered for the claiming price, has drawn the rail. Winless in 11 starts this year, Lil Mitch was fourth after a slow start behind Master Heat at Fairplex Park on Sept. 16. Lil Mitch is making his first start on turf since June.