10/23/2003 11:00PM

Omega Code primed for sprint


ARCADIA, Calif. - Omega Code and Olmodavor couldn't make the Breeders' Cup, but as the racing season marches on, they are just getting started. Their allowance-race performances Sunday at Santa Anita will determine whether they can be legitimate Grade 1 contenders in coming weeks.

Omega Code makes his third start following a layoff in race 4 and is expected to race gate to wire in the three-other-than sprint. Omega Code will then aim for the Malibu Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds to be run Dec. 26, which is opening day of the Santa Anita winter meet.

Olmodavor, a son of A.P. Indy, returns from a layoff of nearly eight months. A graded-stakes-placed 4-year-old, Olmodavor is running at a distance - 6 1/2 furlongs - that is too short. His comeback race Sunday is merely a prep for the Cigar Mile on Nov. 29 at Aqueduct.

Five sprinters entered the Sunday allowance, the substitute feature. The $75,000 Lure Stakes at a mile on turf was canceled due to insufficient entries and will be re-written as a classified allowance for next week. The Sunday feature includes Our New Recruit, Arsen, and Ride and Shine. Assuming the race unfolds without surprise, trainer Wesley Ward's analysis is probably right.

"It's basically my race to lose," Ward said.

Team Valor and partners purchased Omega Code after he had won three of his first five starts, including the Grade 3 San Miguel Stakes in January. He was subsequently sidelined with sore feet and sent East to race on softer surfaces, but it did not work out.

"He got back on those Eastern tracks and just didn't like it all," Ward said. "To get through that big, deep sand was really tough."

After a dull Saratoga comeback, Omega Code returned to California for his next start Sept. 28 and dueled through severe fractions (21.28 and 43.77) before tiring and finishing second. The race woke him up.

"He's coming off the racetrack on two feet; he's primed for his best effort," Ward said. Patrick Valenzuela rides Omega Code.

Alex Solis rides Olmodavor, who was sidelined with sore ankles after runner-up finishes to Mineshaft and Medaglia d'Oro in Grade 2 races. Trained by Richard Mandella, Olmodavor has worked steadily and is the class of the field, with three wins and earnings of $278,640 from seven starts. Mandella said the 6 1/2-furlong distance "is probably a little short. I want him to finish good. He might get there, he might not."