02/04/2010 12:00AM

Leroidesanimaux loaded even if it rains


ARCADIA, Calif. - Perhaps the lineup for Saturday's $65,000 Leroidesanimaux Handicap at Santa Anita was too good to be true.

The stakes over a mile on turf has drawn the millionaire Battle of Hastings; Fluke, the winner of the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in November; the three-time winner Sudden War; and the stakes winners Blue Chagall, Cherokee Artist, and Quindici Man.

The expected wet weather could lead to a defection or two if the race is switched from the turf course to the Pro-Ride main track.

While Battle of Hastings, Blue Chagall, and Sudden War may stay in the race if the surface is switched, their trainers said, a surface change would likely lead to the withdrawal of Fluke, trainer Humberto Ascanio said. Cherokee Artist and Quindici Man have run well on both surfaces.

Trainer Jeff Mullins said he would prefer the Leroidesanimaux Stakes to remain on turf because he wants to prep Battle of Hastings for the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf here March 6.

"He'll need a race before the big stakes," Mullins said.

Unraced since finishing second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 29, Battle of Hastings has never run on the synthetic main track. About an inch of rain is expected, which Mullins said could actually help the main track.

"I think with the right amount of rain, the track is better," Mullins said.

Mullins said he has a slight concern about Battle of Hastings's fitness after missing training time in January, when excessive rain left Santa Anita's main track closed for nearly a week.

"We kind of got him revved up with this race in mind," Mullins said. "The rain and the track being closed cost us."

Blue Chagall won the Lure Stakes here in October but was eighth as the 2-1 favorite behind Fluke in the Citation Handicap. Trainer Julio Canani said Blue Chagall was unable to settle in that race.

"He was wide the whole way, and that was it," he said.

Sudden War is making his second stakes appearance, having finished 10th in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland last April. In his only subsequent start, he was third in an optional claimer here Dec. 31. Jordan Blair, assistant trainer to Kenneth McPeek, said Sudden War will be part of the pace from his rail draw and would start on either surface. He said his major concern is the distance might be too short.

"A mile is not his best distance," Blair said.

Empressive Lady tops Wishing Well field

Mullins has an excellent chance to win Saturday's $60,000 Wishing Well Handicap for fillies and mares with Empressive Lady, regardless of whether the race is run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, as scheduled, or 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

Empressive Lady was third in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course last January and third in the Winter Stakes on the main track at Hollywood Park in December.

The field of 11 includes the stakes winners Dance to My Tune, Dreamt, Pasar Silbano, Porto Marmay, and Skedee.