10/23/2007 12:00AM

Wise One seeking clean start

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - The first main-track allowance route of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita attracted a full field of 11 runners one month ago.

Since then, the one-other-than population has thinned - only five older horses entered the same first-level allowance Thursday at a mile on Cushion Track. The $47,000 purse makes race 7 the richest on the card; five runners make it the smallest field.

Two other races Thursday have more appeal than the feature, in which Wise One and Cotton King will try not to blow the break. Pace-pressers, both were compromised last out by a tardy takeoff.

Wise One hopped at the break and was caught wide throughout Sept. 29. Racing for the first time in 16 months, Wise One finished evenly and lost by only 2 1/4 lengths. The 1-for-4 gelding has two sharp works since for trainer Vladimir Cerin, and a clean start under Martin Garcia makes Wise One the horse to beat.

Cotton King may be the horse to catch. The beaten favorite in 5 of his last 6 starts, the 1-for-9 Cotton King has not raced since March 29 when he stumbled at the break and finished fourth. Trained by Bobby Frankel, he returns with a solid work pattern and could be the speed of the field under Michael Baze.

The three others are the sharp maiden winner Smooth and Savvy, Stormy Grant, and deep closer Choctaw Chief.

While all five have a chance in race 7, a potential standout is entered one race earlier.

Race 6 is a six-furlong maiden-40 starter allowance for fillies and mares, and Kula Girl should be gone. Kula Girl's front-running style led to her defeat Oct. 7, when she set a fast pace over a closers-friendly downhill turf course and weakened to fourth.

Kula Girl returns to the main track Thursday for trainer Mike Mitchell, and the speedster should wire the field under Tyler Baze. Sportie's Squeeze and Smokey Route will run late.

The best gambling opportunity Thursday is in the final race on the card. Race 8 is a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for $32,000 maiden-claiming 2-year-olds, and second-time starter Frog Sauce is poised for an upset over likely favorite Smokin While Flyin.

Trained by Cliff Sise, Frog Sauce was banged around at the start of his Sept. 19 debut at Fairplex Park. He unleashed a sharp middle move, then went evenly late to finish a distant third. Maidens trained by Sise habitually improve second time out.