12/27/2003 12:00AM

Knapp is rooting for rain

Benoit & Associates
Spring Star, winning the Palomar on turf in September, might remain in the Monrovia if it's moved to dirt.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The potential for wet weather is a vital factor for handicappers to consider in Monday's $150,000 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita.

If an expected rainstorm arrives Monday, the race is almost certain to be transferred from about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf to 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt.

A move to the dirt helps the chances of 2003 main track stakes winners Bold Roberta and Icantgoforthat as well as the improving Honest Answer.

If the race stays on the turf, those three will be longer prices against a tough entry of Polygreen and Spring Star, and Dedication, who finished third in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park last month.

Dedication may go favored if the race stays on turf. A Group 1 stakes winner in France in 2002, she has placed in two stakes this year.

Icantgoforthat has run well on both surfaces this year. She won the Survive Stakes for California-breds on dirt in January and subsequently was placed in two graded stakes on the hillside turf course.

Trainer Steve Knapp is hoping for a switch to dirt. "If it's run in the mud it could be better because some could scratch," Knapp said. "She loves the main track."

Regardless of the surface, Icantgoforthat will be near the pace. In October, Icantgoforthat, 4, led early in the Ken Maddy Handicap on the hillside turf course, but faded late to finish third. She stalked a fast pace in the California Cup Distaff and finished fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind race winner Blind Ambition.

"She was the only one that stayed around and got a piece," Knapp said. "We didn't have any punch because we were right behind that fast pace."

Polygreen and Spring Star are coming off layoffs. Polygreen has not started since finishing ninth in the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park in July.

"She had a big ulcer in her throat and it's better now," trainer Richard Mandella said.

Last spring, Polygreen won two allowance races, including one on the hillside turf course.

Spring Star won the Grade 2 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Sept. 7, her most recent start. Of the pair, Mandella suggested she might try the main track if the surface is switched.

"Spring Star has always worked well on dirt," Mandella said. "Spring Star wants a mile or further, but I think she'll run well fresh."