12/31/2005 12:00AM

Outside post in speedy field big hurdle for Jet West

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Fusaichi Rock Star returns off a week's rest to run in Monday's Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Unbeaten in three races since being claimed for $62,500 in August, must overcome a wide post position to extend his winning streak to four in Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita.

It will not be easy. Jet West has drawn the outside post in a field of 12 loaded with speed. Since the El Conejo is run over 5 1/2 furlongs, Jet West will need to show ample speed to avoid being carried wide on the turn.

Breaking from the outside is a switch for Jet West, who has started from the inside two posts in his three recent wins - two allowance races and the California Cup Sprint on Nov. 6. In the California Cup Sprint, Jet West broke from the rail but was always within a length and won by a nose over Areyoutalkintome.

"The California Cup was a thrill," said owner Bruce Hochman, who claimed Jet West with trainer Ted H. West for $62,500 at Del Mar.

West said he considered running Jet West in the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park last month but opted to wait for Monday's race. "This is his home track," West said.

The race should have a strong pace.

Stone Rain, who is seeking his first stakes win, should lead, but must deal with Excess Summer, who won three stakes in 2003, and Slew's Prince, who has run primarily on turf in recent starts.

The El Conejo has drawn seven stakes winners: Excess Summer, Fusaichi Rock Star, Jet West, Jungle Prince, Mighty Beau, Red Warrior, and Shadow of Illinois.

Fusaichi Rock Star makes the quickest comeback, returning a week after finishing 13th in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes. The winner of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs last February, Fusaichi Rock Star is winless in his last three starts.

Several runners are returning from lengthy layoffs. Slew's Prince has not run in 16 months, Excess Summer last started in February, Moon Mission and Red Warrior have not started since April, and Stone Rain has been off since May.

Red Warrior won the Sunshine Millions Sprint at 47-1 last January, but has lost three subsequent starts. He breaks from the rail.

Red Warrior is trained by Juan Garcia, who also starts Jungle Prince. A 5-year-old gelding, Jungle Prince won two stakes in 2005 and is coming off a victory in the Zia Park Express in New Mexico on Dec. 4.

Another starter going well is Gray Black n White, who has won three consecutive starts, all for trainer Julio Canani.