01/31/2006 1:00AM

Now this Hendrix can handle


ARCADIA, Calif. - When he is not completely outclassed against Grade 2 competition, Hendrix can put on quite a show.

He scored a 2 1/2-length victory Nov. 26 in a second-level allowance and then was sixth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 2 .

There is nothing wrong with merely being a good allowance horse, and that is what Hendrix is trying to be. Thursday at Santa Anita, he is in the right spot - racing a mile on turf in a three-other-than allowance with an $80,000 claiming option.

Nine entered the race, in which . The entry figures as the one to beat, mostly on class but partly because of their jockeys. Hendrix's rider is Corey Nakatani, whose first 10 wins at the meet include seven on turf. Brecon Beacon's rider is Pat Valenzuela, whose meet-leading 33 wins include 11 on grass.

Nakatani and Valenzuela have combined to win 30 percent of the grass races at the meet, and the total is likely to grow Thursday. Hendrix, trained by Craig Dollase and owned by J. Paul Reddam, is 3 of 11 on grass, and his two-other-than allowance victory one back at Golden Gate would make him awfully tough.

Brecon Beacon, trained by Doug O'Neill and owned by Reddam, Paul Lo Duca and partners, is more difficult to assess. He finished third in the Grade 2 .

Brecon Beacon, 3 for 13 on turf, can win Thursday if he overcomes post 9 and runs back to his U.S. debut. Hendrix, however, is the stronger half of the entry in a race that should unfold at a quick pace.

are front-runners who need the lead and are likely to get in each other's way. Follow the Rainbow set the pace in the Sir Beaufort before weakening to third, and his only chance would be to shake away from Cinematic. Cinematic is a one-dimensional front-runner returning to turf. Both speed horses have won 3 of 9. Front-runner Stormin Away adds more speed.

The field also includes Romeo Plus, Kickboard, Special Matter, and Come Out Smokin'.