11/27/2007 1:00AM

'War' horse tries racing blinkers off

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - At age 5, and after 12 starts, Chattahoochee War has finally grown up, trainer Bobby Frankel thinks. Now in his fourth season on the track, Chattahoochee War has worn blinkers for every one of his races.

"He didn't even want to breeze unless I had them on him," Frankel said Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park. "But now he breezes good without them, so I'm going to take them off."

They are removed for Thursday's featured seventh race at Hollywood Park, an optional-claiming race for third-level allowance horses going 1 1/16 miles on turf. Only five horses were entered in the race, which had been postponed for several days because of insufficient entries.

Frankel will start 40 percent of the field, with New Export joining Chattahoochee War. There is no one in the race who usually makes the lead, and the Frankel runners appear to have the most natural speed. Frankel believes that even without blinkers it is Chattahoochee War who is likeliest to inherit the lead.

"He's got more speed," Frankel said.

He also has had trouble stringing together a campaign. Chattahoochee War has had two layoffs of approximately one year each, and as a result has raced just three times the past 27 months. He is winless since April 2005. This year, he was a sharp third in his comeback race at Del Mar on Aug. 16, then was sixth of nine in the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on a turf course rated good on Sept. 22.

"I thought his first race was good," Frankel said. "His second race, I didn't think he handled the turf."

New Export, one of two horses in the race eligible to be claimed for $100,000, comes off a second-place finish in a similar race at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting Sept. 28.

"He'll be up close, too," Frankel said.

For Frankel to win, his runners will have to hold off Toasted, who is wheeling back 12 days after finishing third here to the highly regarded Storm Military in a classified allowance race. His chances were compromised that day by a soft pace, which hindered his late run.

Toasted has been facing the best company of late, but he has been stuck in a rut, having won just 1 of his last 14 starts after capturing 4 of his first 11. Garrett Gomez takes over as his rider, replacing Corey Nakatani.