Updated on 09/16/2011 7:46AM

No excuses for Lido Palace

Michael J. Marten
The San Antonio will be Lido Palace's first start since his lackluster eighth-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Lido Palace has raced in four corners of the world the past 14 months - Chile, Dubai, the United States, and Japan. You would think global travel eventually would exact a toll on Lido Palace, the country's leading handicap horse. Not so, according to trainer Bobby Frankel.

"Travelling is a bit overrated as an excuse," Frankel said. "He sure doesn't look like it's hurting him."

Frankel expects Lido Palace and Jerry Bailey to pick up Sunday where they left off last fall. Winner of the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes, Lido Palace is favored to lead the country's handicap division into spring, and favored to lead the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap field first to the wire.

Six others entered the 1 1/8-mile, $250,000 race, the first start for Lido Palace since a dull eighth two months ago in the Japan Cup Dirt. His rivals include Grade 1 turf winner Redattore, trained by Richard Mandella, who is training like a beast for his return to dirt; the Mandella-trained Straight Flush, a Brazilian Group 1 winner; and Euchre, Frankel's other starter, who should improve after a leg infection compromised his training for the San Pasqual Handicap. Longshots Irisheyesareflying, Gander, and Seinne complete the field.

Purchased in South America by John and Jerry Amerman, Lido Palace has won 8 of 16 and earned more than $1.6 million. The fact Lido Palace has not raced in more than two months is not a concern for Frankel.

"If he gets beat, it won't be because he hasn't run," Frankel said. "It would be because of the racetrack. That's the only concern I have, [because] most of his life he's run on sandy tracks."

Lido Palace seeks to restore a reputation that went backward when he finished eighth in the $2 million Japan Cup Dirt. Frankel excuses the effort. Before the race, Lido Palace got sick and recovered, but washed out and ran flat.

"It was a bunch of little things," Frankel said. "Before the race he had a temperature for a day or two."

The San Antonio is a Santa Anita Handicap prep for both Lido Palace and Euchre. Frankel advises bettors not to overlook the latter. Euchre's second-place finish Jan. 5 in the San Pasqual was unimpressive, but his preparation for the race was interrupted by a leg infection. Euchre, a 6-for-18 gelding owned by Frank Stronach, enters the San Antonio with no excuses.

Said Frankel: "He's going to run good."

While Frankel's two horses are proven on dirt, Mandella's pair enter largely uncharted territory. Regarding top-class turf runners Redattore and Straight Flush, Mandella said: "I just hope I've got a dirt horse in there somewhere. There aren't many million-dollar turf races out there, and I can't see that we are giving up anything to try it. What if they can dirt?"

A successful transition to the main track would open up a world of possibility for them. While both horses have won on dirt, they remain unproven against the caliber they face in the San Antonio. Handicappers attempting to find a distinction between Redattore and Straight Flush face a dilemma. Both are qualified on class, but even Mandella is unsure which might prefer the main track in a race.

"If either of them run their races on dirt that they run on turf, they're going to be tough to beat," Mandella said.

Redattore is a U.S. Grade 1 winner, having won the Eddie Read last summer at Del Mar. A foot abscess excuses his dull fifth in the Oak Tree Mile in his most recent start four months ago, and his main-track workouts have bordered on sensational. Alex Solis rides Redattore.

Straight Flush, 7, has raced only nine times. "He's a horse that has had to be nursed along his whole career," Mandella said, adding "he's in great shape now."

He also has something his stablemate does not - a recent race. Straight Flush finished a good second in his U.S. debut, and trained well out of the race.

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