10/30/2007 11:00PM

Proudinsky starts 2007 campaign

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - When Proudinsky won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Derby in November 2006, the victory suggested that the colt would be a major factor in turf stakes in 2007.

There is still time for that to happen. Friday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, Proudinsky returns from a one-year layoff following the Bay Meadows Derby, a break caused by "bad feet," trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Proudinsky may go favored, but Frankel is concerned that the colt may not be ready for the one-mile grass race.

"I don't think he's 100 percent," Frankel said. "Hopefully, his class will carry him through. He's a pretty good horse."

Owned by Gary Tanaka, Proudinsky has won 2 of 6 starts. He was second in stakes in Germany and at Arlington Park in 2006.

The Bay Meadows Derby was the best performance of his career. He drew off in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Bold Chieftain, a stakes winner this year and a starter in Saturday's $250,000 California Cup Classic.

Friday's allowance race will be a test for Proudinsky. The field of 11 includes Courtnall, who was third in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile on Oct. 7; Optimer, who has finished first or second in five consecutive races; and Black Jack Attack, a threat from the front who should benefit from the one-mile distance.

Courtnall could have been claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 2. He finished a length behind the Frankel-trained Out of Control in the Oak Tree Mile, closing from last in a field of six.

Trainer Craig Dollase said Courtnall could return in the $400,000 Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23 if he runs well Friday.

"We'd consider it," Dollase said of the Citation. "He always rises to the occasion this time of year. I don't know why. If we get through this condition, we can move on."

Optimer is making his first start for Frankel, having previously been trained by Richard Dutrow. Optimer has had a fascinating season. In his last five starts, he has won twice and lost the other three races by a head, a head, and a neck. The neck loss came in an optional claimer Oct. 5.

Black Jack Attack is likely to set the pace. Trained by John Sadler, Black Jack Attack led to the final sixteenth on Oct. 5 before fading to finish fourth by a half-length. Optimer was second in that race.