03/13/2003 1:00AM

Capable of beating more than Cal-breds?


ARCADIA, Calif. - None of the starters in Saturday's $250,000 San Luis Rey Handicap is having as lucrative of a year as Adminniestrator. None has as much to prove in the race as Adminniestrator, either.

On Jan. 25, Adminniestrator won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds, the richest victory of his 34-race career.

"I don't know how that will stack up against open horses," trainer Paddy Gallagher said. "I guess we'll see. Waiting for this race was kind of the plan."

Adminniestrator is proven on turf and over the San Luis Rey Handicap distance of 1 1/2 miles, having won the 1 1/2-mile Quicken Tree Stakes for California-breds last April at Hollywood Park. In his last start in a graded stakes, he finished seventh in the Del Mar Handicap.

"In a couple of races, he was a little unlucky," Gallagher said. "Even though he wasn't winning, he was running pretty good."

Del Mar Handicap winner Delta Form is in the San Luis Rey field, but overall the race has not drawn a strong group. Grammarian, Johar, and The Tin Man, major stakes winners on turf during this meeting, are not starting because of illness or injury.

In their absence, the San Luis Rey field has 10 starters. Aside from Adminniestrator, the top contenders are Special Matter, who was second to The Tin Man in the San Luis Obispo Handicap on Feb. 15; Requete and Sumitas, the first two finishers in the restricted San Marino Handicap on Feb. 20; and Night Patrol, who won the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile last October.

Trainer Bobby Frankel has three entrants - Blue Steller, Requete, and Sumitas. Blue Steller was fourth in the San Gabriel Handicap behind Grammarian on Dec. 29. Last year, he was third in the Del Mar Handicap and Clement Hirsch Turf Championship.

Sumitas won the 2001 Knickerbocker Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Belmont Park, but is winless in five starts over 1 1/2 miles on turf, including a narrow loss in a Group 1 in Germany in 1999.

"It's probably a little farther than he wants to run," Frankel said.

Delta Form is the 117-pound topweight. The San Luis Rey Handicap marks his first start since a last-place finish in the Hong Kong Vase in December, a layoff that concerns trainer Jenine Sahadi.

"He's a nice horse, that's not my problem," Sahadi said. "My concern is whether he can compete with these horses at this particular time."

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