01/03/2008 12:00AM

Turn Away's chance to shine

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ARCADIA, Calif. - After Country Star's win in the Hollywood Starlet, Bobby Frankel wouldn't go so far as to say there was a better one in the barn. But the Hall of Fame trainer might have one of nearly equal ability in Turn Away, and that makes her an intimidating proposition against five rivals on Saturday in the Gradeo3, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita.

"I don't know if she can run as far as Country Star," Frankel said Thursday. "She's out of a sprinting mare. But she's a very, very nice filly."

Like Country Star, Turn Away is by Empire Maker, whom Frankel trained to win the 2003 Belmont Stakes. Turn Away is out of Averti, a daughter of Known Fact.

Turn Away has raced just twice - both times last fall at Churchill Downs - and displayed plenty of promise in those starts. Sent off the 6-5 favorite against 10 rivals in her debut, she crushed maidens by 9 1/4 lengths going seven furlongs Oct. 28. Frankel brought her back four weeks later for the Grade 2 Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles. Sent off the even-money favorite, Turn Away finished third to the unbeaten Pure Clan following a rough trip.

"It was a screwed-up race," Frankel said. "She stumbled leaving the gate, then got caught behind horses. I was a little disappointed she didn't win."

Turn Away drew the outside post in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel, but with only five runners, posts should be meaningless.

"I like the position she's in now, on the outside," Frankel said. "She's got no real excuses going in."

Frankel said he was evaluating the condition of the track at Santa Anita, and said he would not race Turn Away if he is not satisfied with the way the track drains during the rainstorms that were expected to pummel Southern California this weekend.

Of the four others in the race, the most accomplished is Grace Anatomy, who was third in the Alcibiades at Keeneland in October. She, however, has turned in two poor efforts since then, including an eighth-place finish behind Country Star in the Hollywood Starlet. She is adding blinkers for this race, and switching to Garrett Gomez.

Kazamira, favored in her two starts, rallied strongly to defeat maidens last time out. A daughter of Dynaformer, she figures to improve with distance for trainer John Shirreffs.

A notable absence from the Santa Ysabel is Miesque Stakes winner Sea Chanter, who had been pointed to this race by trainer Todd Pletcher.

"She's got a little filling in her left front leg," Pletcher said Thursday from Florida.