06/04/2007 11:00PM

Zann exits key race, but long ago

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A moderate turf stakes for 3-year-olds that looked like a nondescript Grade 3 on opening day of the Santa Anita winter meet instead turned out to be a launch pad for a series of stakes performances by its participants.

Unfortunately for the good colt Zann, that race – the Sir Beaufort Stakes back on Dec. 26 – was the last time he ran. Zann came down with a 105-degree temperature the day after finishing third in the Sir Beaufort, and went to the sidelines while his rivals went on to glory.

On Thursday at Hollywood Park, Zann will try to make up for lost time. He runs a mile on turf in the seventh-race feature, and the handicapping consensus expects Zann to pick up where he left off. There is not much question he is dropping in class running in the third-level allowance race.

Trained by Mike Machowsky, Zann has won 3 of 9 starts, but his best race was his third-place finish in the Sir Beaufort. He finished only a length behind Kip Deville, who subsequently won the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile and the Grade 2 Maker’s Mark Mile before tailing off recently. The Sir Beaufort runner-up, Awesome Gem, went on to win the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes next out.

That’s not all. Fourth-place finisher Porto Santo later ran second in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy; sixth-place finisher Get Funky recently finished second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile; seventh-place finisher Bedlam Bertie later won a California-bred stakes, and ninth-place finisher Like Running Water came out of the Sir Beaufort to finish first in a second-level allowance but was disqualified.

Zann faced a tough crowd, and Machowsky expects him to run well Thursday despite the layoff. It would not be first time Zann has run well first start back. Last fall, he returned from a similar five-month layoff and won a second-level allowance. He later ran second in a restricted stakes and fifth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.

William Warren owns Zann, who will be ridden by leading rider Michael Baze. Five horses entered the Thursday allowance, and Zann’s two biggest threats are Storm Mate and Hello Sunday. Storm Mate won a second-level allowance by a nose in his most recent start on March 23 at Santa Anita.

Hello Sunday drops out of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap on April 7 at Santa Anita. Captain Kurt and Union Avenue are also entered.