07/08/2003 11:00PM

New surface for Coax Kid in '03 debut

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Coax Kid, unraced since a third-place finish in the Hollywood Futurity last December, makes his turf debut and first start of the year in a $48,000 allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs on Friday.

The allowance race drew six runners, including two coming off recent wins - KO Love and Saint Lorenzo. The race is the seventh on an eight-race program plagued by short fields.

Coax Kid races for Royce Jaime and is trained by Doug O'Neill, who also starts Saint Lorenzo. At 2, Coax Kid had one win in five starts. His lone victory came in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on Nov. 29, when he finished a length in front of Ten Most Wanted. Earlier this year, Ten Most Wanted won the Illinois Derby and finished second in the Belmont Stakes, and he will be favored in Sunday's $400,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.

In the Hollywood Futurity, Coax Kid finished fourth but was promoted to third after the stewards disqualified runner-up Kafwain for causing interference in early stretch. Coax Kid finished 6 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Toccet.

Coax Kid has never raced on turf, but he does not face a tough field in Friday's allowance race.

The biggest threat is from KO Love, who won his career debut over six furlongs on dirt at Bay Meadows on May 30.

Trained by Kristin Mulhall, KO Love led from the start and won by nine lengths, finishing in a quick 1:08.25.

"He's always been pretty quick in the morning, but we weren't expecting that," Mulhall said. "The turf race is kind of an experiment."

Mike Smith rides KO Love on Friday.

Two runners - Penne Dancer and Bay Town Boy - have not started since last summer.

Penne Dancer is making his first start since finishing fourth in an allowance race last July. Bay Town Boy has not started since June 2002, when he won a starter allowance.

Saint Lorenzo has won his last two starts, both for claimers. On June 1 he won a claiming race for maidens over 6 1/2 furlongs, then returned to post a front-running win in a 6 1/2-furlong starter allowance June 28. On Friday, Julie Krone rides Saint Lorenzo. She was scheduled to return to riding on Thursday after a four-month break caused by a back injury suffered in a spill at Santa Anita in March.

McManus will be a longshot. Winless in eight starts, he was eighth in a seven-furlong allowance race June 29.