07/29/2006 12:00AM

Undefeated Bro Lo returns from long layoff


DEL MAR, Calif. - After going unbeaten in two starts at the 2005 Del Mar meeting, expectations are high for 's return from an 11-month layoff in an optional claimer Monday.

Last year, Bro Lo was one of the most exciting 2-year-olds in California. By In Excess, he won a maiden race by eight lengths and the I'm Smokin Stakes for 2-year-old California-breds by 7 1/2 lengths. He was being considered for the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last fall, when he was diagnosed with a bone chip in an ankle, trainer Doug O'Neill said. The injury required surgery.

Owned by breeders Billie and David Farr, Bro Lo makes his turf debut and first start against older horses in Monday's seventh race, which will be run at five furlongs. He is expected to be on the lead early and will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani.

O'Neill said he is not sure what to expect; he never dreamed that Bro Lo would win twice like he did last year.

"After his first race, we were in awe," O'Neill said. "We thought there was no way he could match that, and the second race was equally awesome."

Bro Lo has worked about every 10 days since mid-June. None of the works has been exceptionally quick.

"It's been a slow process," O'Neill said of Bro Lo's comeback. "He's been doing really well."

Bro Lo breaks from post 5 and has six rivals. The field is limited to seven starters since the temporary turf rails will be placed seven feet from the permanent position.

Bro Lo may face early pressure from Witness This, who was claimed away from O'Neill by trainer Steve Knapp for $50,000 on June 23. A speed duel would help Deputy Kris, who won an allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in his last start at Hollywood Park on June 17.

The second race is an optional claimer at seven furlongs, which drew five runners. Captain Squire, who was scratched from Saturday's Wickerr Handicap, starts from the outside.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Captain Squire is seeking his first win since the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last October.

Captain Squire must hold off Areyoutalkintome, who is winless in his last six starts. Trained by O'Neill, Areyoutalkintome was fifth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 2.