01/23/2002 12:00AM

Theatre Script a mystery to figure

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The United States debut of Theatre Script in a $54,000 allowance race/optional claimer at Santa Anita on Friday may help solve the puzzle of the colt's disappointing form last summer in England.

Unraced since August, Theatre Script has been trained by Simon Bray since October, following an English campaign that included one win in four starts.

Owned by Robert Sangster, Theatre Script was third in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last June but finished last of nine in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in August.

Although Bray said that Theatre Script has trained well in recent weeks, the dismal loss last August is on the trainer's mind.

"I don't know what went amiss there," Bray said. "They were dumbfounded why he ran that way."

Previously trained by John Gosden, Theatre Script raced with top-class 3-year-olds in England. In the King Edward VII Stakes, Theatre Script finished a length in front of fourth-place finisher Milan, who later won the Great Voltigeur and English St. Leger and finished second to Fantastic Light in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park.

There is nothing of that caliber in Friday's race, run over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The race is oversubscribed with 14 entrants, but only 10 will start since the temporary rails will be set 30 feet from the inside rail, limiting the width of the course.

Theatre Script may go favored, although Mister Kick and Big Shot will be well-supported. Mister Kick was well-beaten at Belmont Park on Oct. 18 and fourth in the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap last April. He was stakes-placed in France in 2000.

Big Shot, entered to be claimed for $40,000, has been second or third in four of his last five starts, all around two turns.

Theatre Script is likely to stalk Big Shot and the longshot Take My Note. Ultimately, Bray is hoping that Theatre Script can develop into a stakes horse on turf later this year.

"He may need one trip around there to figure it out," he said. "It's taken him awhile to adapt to American racing."

Bray said Theater Script will be outfitted with blinkers for the first time, a practice less common overseas.

"I put a pair of cheater blinkers on him," Bray said, describing equipment that allows for limited vision. "It's hard to evaluate him. I've been working him on dirt, and he's crying out for the turf."

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