11/18/2009 12:00AM

French import tries to fit in


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Julio Canani will be thinking about his friend Bobby Frankel when he starts European import Loup Breton in the race-7 feature Thursday at Hollywood Park.

"All the stuff we did . . . all the fun we had together," Canani said. "Everybody thought he was tough, but he was a teddy bear."

Canani and Frankel were pals everywhere but between the rails, and Canani admits that when Frankel died Monday, "I cried all day."

Thursday, Canani will wipe away the tears and pay Frankel respectful tribute by trying to beat him with a good horse. Loup Breton, a Group 1-placed import from France, faces former Frankel trainee Porfido and others in a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance.

While Frankel was a Canani friend and confidant for more than 30 years, it was French trainer Elie Lellouche who recommended that owner Ecurie Wildenstein transfer Loup Breton to Canani. Loup Breton, who races Thursday on Lasix, arrived at Santa Anita in early October and has trained well for his U.S. debut.

"I just want to know where I am with him," Canani said. "He was a nice horse [in Europe], and I have to start him someplace. Don't forget, he is 5 going on 6."

Loup Breton was more than just a nice horse in France. Runner-up in a Group 1 in April at Longchamp, his 3 wins from 18 starts include Group 2 and Group 3 victories. He earned $530,014 overseas and will be ridden Thursday by Garrett Gomez.

Canani often downplays his chances, and though Loup Breton is expected to start favored Thursday, Canani said, "I think the horse that should be favored is Chris Clemente's."

He was referring to Sporting Art, a 4-for-12 comebacker whose last win was April 2008 in the Grade 3 Calder Derby. Rafael Bejarano rides Sporting Art.

Yorktown, a 3-for-12 colt trained by Graham Motion, adds depth. In his most recent start, Yorktown finished last of six in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker run Oct. 22 on a good turf course at Belmont. Yorktown is expected to improve on firm ground. Joel Rosario rides.

Tres Borrachos is a main-track specialist forced to turf when a similar allowance race on the main track did not fill. Yacht Spotter is an 8-for-29 gelding expected to set the pace. Porfido drops from graded stakes and will be running late.