02/21/2010 1:00AM

Allowance horses target soft San Luis Obispo

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Allowance-caliber geldings Dynamic Range and Bourbon Bay are eligible to compete below the Grade 2 level at which they run Sunday. But neither will find an easier race.

Nine entered the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race in which Dynamic Range figures to go favored even though his biggest win was a second-level allowance.

"He's improving, and a mile and a half is better for him than a mile and a quarter," trainer Julio Canani said.

What he did not say is Dynamic Range also is better without having to face division leader Loup Breton.

A troubled fourth last out in the Grade 2, 1 1/4-mile San Marcos won by Loup Breton, Dynamic Range stretches out Sunday and will try to give Canani his third straight victory in the Obispo after he won the last two years with Spring House.

Canani also trains Loup Breton, whose recent three-race campaign afforded him a short break. Loup Breton returns March 20 in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey. His absence from the Obispo opens the door for Dynamic Range, who broke slowly last out, got kicked in the chest according to Canani, and still finished with run.

"He could have won, he got in so much trouble," Canani said.

Well, maybe.

"He was trying to run at the end; he could have finished third," he said.

Victor Espinoza rides Dynamic Range, whose improvement coincides with being gelded prior to a June 2009 comeback.

"Sometimes you have to geld a horse to get the best out of them," Canani said.

Bourbon Bay won the only 1 1/2-mile turf race this meet, a first-level allowance, by 3 1/2 lengths. It's an ambitious hike from that allowance to a Grade 2, but as trainer Neil Drysdale noted, "There is nowhere else to run."

Bourbon Bay raced nine times before he tried 1 1/2 miles.

"I think it's been his distance all along," Drysdale said.

Rafael Bejarano rides Bourbon Bay.

Drysdale also starts Obrigado, a 7-year-old who won the Obispo in 2007. He finished last as the favorite in his most recent start, while compromised by a slow pace. Obrigado prefers a firm course, but with weekend rain in the forecast, his chances are unclear.