03/06/2002 1:00AM

Romanzo attempts something new


ARCADIA, Calif. - Romanzo is entering uncharted territory when he starts as a leading contender in an allowance race/optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Friday.

"I don't know how he'll do," trainer Dean Greenman said. "I've never run him back in three weeks before. It's usually two months between races."

A series of injuries have limited the 5-year-old Romanzo to six starts in 19 months, but he has won three times, including his turf debut in an allowance race/optional claimer on the hillside course on Feb. 13.

"I thought that race was pretty damn awesome," Greenman said.

Romanzo was 14-1 that day and closed from fifth to win by a length. Friday's race is a prep for him for the $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap over six furlongs at Oaklawn Park on April 11.

Romanzo may be favored in an eight-horse field that includes two stakes winners from South America - Light it Up from Brazil, who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and Kachamandi from Chile, who is trained by Barry Abrams.

Romanzo is a stalker and will have at least two targets. Skip to the Stone, the winner of two graded sprint stakes for 3-year-olds last year, makes his second start of the year, following a sixth in an allowance race on dirt on Feb. 13.

I've Decided, entered for a $100,000 claiming price, will be among the early leaders in his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap last November at Hollywood Park.

The field also includes Munjiz, second in his U.S. debut on Jan. 30; Domination, winless in five starts dating back to a division of the 1999 Oceanside Stakes; and F.J.'s Pace, a winner of three of his last five starts in turf sprints.

Romanzo races for Dean's mother, Jean. He debuted in September 2000 with a fourth-place finish at Del Mar and won his maiden two months later at Oak Tree. Last year, he won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields in January, finished fourth in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap in April, and was last of 12 in an allowance race at Del Mar in July.

"He's a good horse, but he's never been sound," Dean Greenman said. "There are no secrets. We took chips out of his knees at Del Mar. I baby him along and we keep him together with Super Glue. He's had a splint bone, a tendon and bad feet. His ankles are good, though."

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