01/07/2007 12:00AM

Unbeaten E Z Warrior dominates San Miguel

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ARCADIA, Calif. - E Z Warrior was the fastest gun in the West last summer, and after being gone for six months, he came back Sunday at Santa Anita, still in the same position.

E Z Warrior ($3), breaking from the rail, shot to the lead and never looked back in a powerful performance in the $80,000 San Miguel Stakes, winning under a hand ride in a swift 1:08.82 for six furlongs. He beat Hurry Up Austin by 1 3/4 lengths, with Noble Court another three-quarters of a length back in third.

Now unbeaten in three starts, E Z Warrior is certainly the quickest 3-year-old on the West Coast. But he still has yet to race beyond six furlongs, so his chances of becoming a prime Kentucky Derby prospect are still suspect.

The future was on the backburner on Sunday. This was his first start since the Hollywood Juvenile Championship in July. He suffered from sore shins last summer.

"I'm glad to have him back," trainer Bob Baffert said.

"He's back," winning jockey David Flores said animatedly to Baffert as they exchanged high fives.

E Z Warrior, a son of Exploit purchased by Baffert for owner Ahmed Zayat for $1.2 million at Barretts last year, is unbeaten in three starts. Curiously, he has drawn the rail every time.

"I didn't like the one. You have to gun away from there or you get stuck inside," Baffert said.

E Z Warrior broke sharply and immediately grabbed the lead. He set fractions of 21.60 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, and 44.10 seconds for a half-mile.

"He's been working so easy in the mornings," Flores said. "He gives you so much more in the afternoon."