03/02/2006 12:00AM

Frankel to run 14 on Big Cap card


ARCADIA, Calif. - A few weeks ago, Bobby Frankel glanced through the condition book for Saturday's program at Santa Anita and speculated that he would have 13 entrants. He was wrong. The Hall of Fame trainer has 14 horses entered on an 11-race program that has total purses of $2,058,000.

Frankel has starters in all four stakes - High Limit and Marenostrum in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, Cacique in the $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf, Latent Heat in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes for 3-year-olds, and Set Alight and To Sender in the $100,000 Baldwin Stakes for 3-year-old turf sprinters.

Frankel has starters in every race but the first. A big day could push him closer to the top of the trainer standings. Through Wednesday, Frankel was second with 23 wins, trailing leader Bob Baffert by three wins. Baffert has 10 entrants Saturday.

One of Frankel's best chances is High Limit, the winner of the Strub Stakes who is stretching out to 1 1/4 miles in the Santa Anita Handicap. He has two imports making their U.S. debuts - the highly regarded Cacique in the Kilroe Mile and Santiaga, who starts in the ninth, a $70,000 allowance race.

Santiaga, formerly trained by French champion trainer Andre Fabre, won her last two starts in France last year.

Saturday's card drew 128 entrants, but will have fewer starters because three races have also-eligibles.

The seven overnight races received a purse increase of approximately $15,000 per race from the California Marketing Committee. The increase was designed to make starting horses on bigger days more enticing and has made some purses quite substantial, including $61,000 for maiden races at a mile on turf.

For bettors, the increase makes one popular wager more difficult. The track is guaranteeing a pick-six pool of $1 million. The pick six covers the sixth through 11th races. Each of those races has at least nine entrants.

Business is booming

Santa Anita had one of its most successful days of the 2004-05 meeting on the Big Cap program, drawing a crowd of 35,484, which contributed to an all-sources handle of $22,675,695. Handle was the 10th-highest in track history.

This year, track president Ron Charles is "very optimistic" about another big day. "The card has come up terrific," he said.

Through Wednesday, Santa Anita was having an excellent meeting this winter, which has been largely free of rain. According to figures released to the media on a daily basis, the average ontrack attendance of 8,634 is up 26.8 percent over last year, a meeting plagued by wet weather. The current meeting is up 1.4 percent over the 2003-04 meeting, which was also mainly dry.

Handle is soaring over the 2004-05 meet, and more than keeping pace with the 2003-04 meet. The average ontrack handle of $2,248,176 has improved 24 percent over last year and 1.5 percent over 2003-04.

The all-sources average handle, including statewide and interstate wagering, was $10,425,252, a gain of 21 percent over last year and 6.2 percent over 2003-04.

* There was a minus show pool of $77,508 in Thursday's first race. She's an Eleven ($2.20) crushed four rivals, winning by 11 1/4 lengths. She's an Eleven attracted $396,955 of the $415,039 bet to show.