Updated on 09/16/2011 6:50AM

Denon to go that extra quarter-mile


ARCADIA, Calif. - The brief time that Chris McCarron spent aboard Denon last November for a win in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby left a favorable impression.

"He came with a real nice run," McCarron said. "He got a great trip. He was in the middle of the pack, and he closed quickly."

On Saturday, McCarron and Denon are reunited in the $200,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita. Run over 1 1/2 miles on turf, the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo is Denon's first start outside his own age group and first start beyond 1 1/4 miles.

Denon is opposed by six others, including Continental Red, who was second in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 21, and Bonapartiste, who was second in the Hollywood Turf Cup in December but has been unplaced in his last two starts. Denon drew the rail and is trainer Bobby Frankel's lone starter in the San Luis Obispo.

Denon is one of two 4-year-olds in the field, along with the longshot Apache Wings, who won his turf debut on Jan. 12 and is expected to be a pacesetter.

In Europe, Denon was a stalker, a style that led a minor stakes win in Paris last April and a third in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat last June. Overall, Denon has won three of seven starts and $388,637.

That the San Luis Obispo is Denon's first start beyond 1 1/4 miles is on Frankel's mind but not a major concern. Last August, in his final start in France, Denon was fourth in a Group 2 over 1 1/4 miles, losing by three lengths as the favorite.

"He won't be too far out of it," Frankel said. "He's pretty much one-paced, that's why I think he will handle the distance."

With Apache Wings in the field, stalkers such as Denon, Nazirali, and Continental Red should get good trips. Continental Red was beaten a nose by Irish Prize in the San Marcos and won his previous start at Hollywood Park in November - an allowance race over 1 1/2 miles. A 6-year-old trained by Ian Jory, Continental Red was third in the Quicken Tree Stakes for California-breds over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park last April.

Nazirali could be prominent late. Trained by Julio Canani, the 5-year-old Nazirali has raced exclusively over 1 1/4 miles or beyond, winning two of five starts. The Grade 2 San Luis Obispo is his graded stakes debut.

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