04/03/2002 12:00AM

Road to Slew returning against hillside specialists

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ARCADIA, Calif. - When Road to Slew went out of training last year with an injury, he was the top turf miler among California-breds. On Friday, after a layoff of more than a year, he returns in an optional claimer, eligible to be bought for $100,000.

Trainer Craig Dollase is not making any predictions for Friday's seventh race, which is run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. A ligament injury nearly forced Road to Slew's retirement last year. Dollase is just happy to see him return to racing, hoping that a victory can put him a path to restoring his reputation.

"We gave him ample time off," Dollase said. "It's one race at a time. We'll see how he fares."

Road to Slew, a 7-year-old gelding, won the 2000 California Cup Mile and two stakes in March 2001 - the Grade 2 Frank Kilroe Mile and the Crystal Water Handicap for statebreds. A winner of seven of 22 starts, Road to Slew has earned $797,660 for owner-breeder Nick Cafarchia.

Friday's race is not an easy spot for a comeback.

Road to Slew has four opponents, including two course specialists - FJ's Pace and Fit for a King - who have combined to win four hillside turf races at this meeting.

FJ's Pace finished in a dead heat for first in an optional claimer on March 8 and is eligible to be claimed for $100,000. A 7-year-old, he has won four of his last six starts.

The 9-year-old Fit for a King was previously trained by Dollase, but is now in the barn of owner-trainer Moon Han. Fit for a King has won his last six starts, a streak that began in March 2001. His stalking style should be effective on Friday, since FJ's Pace and Lookn East will contribute to a fast pace.

Lookn East was claimed for $62,500 on Jan. 27 following a win on the hillside turf course. Following an eighth-place finish for trainer Warren Stute in the Reb's Policy Handicap on the hillside turf course on Feb. 27, he was transferred to trainer Vladimir Cerin and makes his first start for Cerin on Friday.

Munjiz, an English import, is winless in two starts on the hillside course at this meeting.

Earlier on the program, Raven Power will be favored to win his second race in an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs for 3-year-olds. Trained by Bruce Headley, Raven Power was second to Wood Memorial hopeful Sunday Break on Feb. 22.

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