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Saint Liam Favored in Santa Anita Handicap

March 4, 2005

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Saint Liam drew the far outside post in the 11-horse field for Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, where the Donn Handicap winner was made the early 5-2 favorite.

``I’m confident he can handle anything,″ trainer Rick Dutrow said Friday.

Rain continued on and off Friday, but the weather was expected to improve by Saturday. More than 40 inches of rain has fallen on the track since the meet began Dec. 26. The average is 14 inches.

Declan’s Moon was set to make his 3-year-old debut in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes on Saturday, a possible steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby for last year’s juvenile champion.

Saint Liam’s main challenger, Rock Hard Ten, drew the No. 10 post. Rock Hard Ten was made the second choice at 3-1, while Imperialism, third in last year’s Kentucky Derby, was the third choice at 4-1.

Unlike his California counterparts, Saint Liam hasn’t missed any training time in Florida. The unusual amount of rain has disrupted training schedules for local horses.

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has two victories in the race, in 1997 and ’98. He would like another with Rock Hard Ten. His other starter is Congrats.

``I grew up idolizing the race,″ said Mandella, who was born nearby. ``It’s a world-class race that anybody would treasure winning.″

Island Fashion will take on the boys for the second straight year. The filly finished second last year; no filly has won the race being run for the 68th time.

``This year’s race is much tougher,″ said Marcelo Polanco, who trains Island Fashion.

Patrick Valenzuela, who will ride Lundy’s Liability, will serve a suspension March 9-13 for careless riding. His penalty is the result of his horse being disqualified in a race Wednesday.

San Antonio Handicap winner Lundy’s Liability, unbeaten in two races at Santa Anita, is trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel.

The field for the Santa Anita Handicap in post position order with jockeys and weights: Lundy’s Liability, Valenzuela, 120 pounds; Borrego, Garrett Gomez, 113; Congrats, Tyler Baze, 115; Truly A Judge, Martin Pedroza, 117; Island Fashion, Kerwin John, 113; Californian, Modesto Linares, 110; Grand Reward, Rafael Bejarano, 112; Imperialism, Alex Solis, 117; Supah Blitz, Victor Espinoza, 115; Rock Hard Ten, Gary Stevens, 119; and Saint Liam, Edgar Prado, 122.

Trainer Ron Ellis was confident about Declan’s Moon, who arrived Thursday from his base across town at Hollywood Park.

``He’s trained here before,″ Ellis said. ``He’s very professional and picks up on things very fast.″

The field for the Santa Catalina: Go Coyote Joe, Pedroza, 115; Snack, Corey Nakatani, 115; Juliesugardaddy, Kent Desormeaux, 115; Spanish Chestnut, Stevens, 122; Going Wild, Bejarano, 122; and Declan’s Moon, Espinoza, 122.

In the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Singletary takes on the Frankel-trained duo of 2003 BC Sprint winner Cajun Beat and Leroidesanimaux. The one-mile turf race features 10 horses with average earnings of more than $700,000.

``It’s like a Breeders Cup race,″ Frankel said.

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