10/24/2005 11:00PM

Sea to See has veteran's advantage in turf route


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Bill Delia has an old friend whom he sees every day now.

Sea to See, a stakes winner early in his career for Delia, makes his first start off a claim by Delia on Thursday and seems the one to beat in a $20,000 turf starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields.

"We took him back for sentimental reasons," Delia said.

Owner Ronnie Heller asked Delia to claim Sea to See. Heller, the son of Sea to See's breeder and original owner, Bart Heller, has recently begun to acquire horses. His father was one of northern California's leading owners and breeders before his death in 2001.

"Ronnie called and said, 'Let's take the big horse back,' " Delia said.

But it wasn't sentiment alone that prompted the claim. Before Heller put down $16,000 to claim the 7-year-old gelding on Sept. 28, Sea to Sea had won a $25,000 claimer and a $40,000 claimer in his previous two starts.

He has six rivals in Thursday's race, and his three career victories over Golden Gate's turf course are more than the combined turf victories for the rest of the field. All seven of his career wins have come on the turf, where he has earned $432,297.

Even at age 7, finds ways to get into trouble, noted Delia, but he will have a decent pace to chase here and seems to tower over the competition on paper.

The fact Delia knows him so well doesn't hurt, and Delia shows a flat-bet profit first off the claim as well as on turf.

"He's got bumps and bruises on him, but he's a real turf horse, and he has lots of that old back class," Delia said. "He's still got racing days left in him.

"He's always been a hard-trying horse. At any time he could beat you, but he still likes to throw his head a bit and get in trouble. He came back up here and ran okay the day we claimed him, but he got into trouble."

Sea to See was checked in the stretch that day, blunting his momentum, and he wound up finishing fourth.

Stablemates , neither of whom boasts a turf victory despite decent turf breeding, seem the toughest challengers. Marbury, Sunday Times, and Military Rhythm all come into the race off victories. I'm Jackie's Boy rounds out the field.