03/01/2005 12:00AM

Sea Harbor finally gets turf start


ARCADIA, Calif. - It has not been a good season to be a grass horse. One of the wettest winters on record has wreaked havoc on all turf levels, including the two-other-than allowance class that runs in the feature Thursday at Santa Anita.

The mile grass race attracted a full field, including Super Strut and Sea Harbor. While Super Strut was fortunate enough to run twice this winter on grass, Sea Harbor has been stuck with nowhere to run except the main track.

"He'd been sitting around waiting for turf," said trainer John Sadler, lamenting the frequency with which turf allowance races this meet were forced to the main track because of rain. Sadler finally surrendered. "I got tired of scratching him, so I ran him on dirt just to a get a race into him. He didn't run that good, but at least we got a race."

The amount of conditioning that Sea Harbor gained by finishing fifth in the Feb. 12 main-track allowance will be evident when he meets nine rivals Thursday in race 7. Sea Harbor's form may be better than it looks. Even though his most recent grass start was a fifth-place finish in early November, it came over the only turf course in California - Hollywood Park - that Sea Harbor does not handle.

has failed to hit the board in seven starts on the Hollywood turf. His main-track form is not much better and includes 1 win and 3 thirds from 9 starts. In 9 other starts, however, he has 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds.

Sea Harbor may be the best gamble in the field, but the horse to beat is Super Strut, who drops back to this level after missing by a little more than five lengths in the Sunshine Millions Turf. A California-bred gelding, has won 3 of 8 on grass and was second by a nose the last time he raced in a second-condition turf allowance.

Fourteen horses were entered, 10 will start. Also entered were Capitano, trying turf for the first time; comebackers Urban King, Imitation, Salford City, and Fabulous West; Fitz Flag; Witness This; Palace Cowboy; Private Chef; Spanish Highway; Masarin; and Unrivalled.