12/29/2004 1:00AM

Either surface fine for Market Garden


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Bill Spawr looked out the window of his stable office on a rainy Wednesday morning and cursed his luck.

Hoping to start Market Garden on turf in Friday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap, Spawr knew that persistent rain was hampering the chances of the race to stay on Santa Anita's hillside turf course.

"Right this second, there is no chance," he said. "I can't see the other barn across the way."

If the race is transferred to dirt, Spawr can consider himself lucky to have a mare such as Market Garden, who can run on turf and dirt. Many of the 16 fillies and mares entered for the Monrovia over about 6 1/2 furlongs are better on turf.

Regardless of which surface is used, there are likely to be widespread scratches.

, the winner of the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on the hillside turf course in September, and Any for Love, who won an allowance race on the hillside in October, are best on turf and may not start on dirt. Belleski was scratched from the Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20 when that race was transferred to dirt.

, who has placed in two dirt stakes this year, and Coconut Girl, who won the Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park in June, would be contenders on dirt.

is proven on both surfaces. A 4-year-old filly owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, Market Garden has had a remarkably consistent campaign this year, winning 4 of 15 starts and placing second or third in eight other races. She won the Pio Pico Stakes for statebreds over 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex Park in September and was a game third in the California Cup Distaff on the hillside turf course on Oct. 16 after leading in early stretch.

"She opened up so fast that I think she thought she had won the race," Spawr said of the California Cup.

Spawr is concerned that a surface switch could lead to the Monrovia being run on a main track that is sealed and hard.

"We're probably going to run unless the track is too hard," he said.

The Monrovia could mark the comeback of Solar Echo, who has not started since August 2003, and the stakes debut of Spring Festival, who has won three consecutive allowance races.

Solar Echo, who drew the rail, won 3 of 4 starts in 2003. In her only loss, she was second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks before being sidelined with injury