Updated on 09/17/2011 9:50PM

Out to restore tarnished reputations

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - The reputation of several turf marathoners can be repaired in Saturday's $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita.

With recent major stakes winners Star Over the Bay, Pellegrino, and Whilly not in the field, horses such as Continental Red, Gorylla, and License to Run have a chance to restore their status as top long-distance grass runners.

The weather may have as much to say about the outcome as the level of competition in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo, which is run over 1 1/2 miles. There is a chance of rain, which could lead to the race starting on the oval portion of the turf course, and not the hillside, and could result in a course rated good or soft.

may be favored, but bettors will rightfully look at his form with confusion. A game third to Pellegrino in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in December, License to Run was the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 22, but finished fifth. He was fourth on the final turn and faded through the stretch, finishing eight lengths behind Whilly.

"He can be a funny horse," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "He's studdish and stuff."

, the 9-year-old millionaire gelding, has run close in recent starts, but has not won since 2003. Still, he is the 116-pound starting highweight.

In his last start, Continental Red rallied through traffic in the Sunshine Millions Turf to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Star Over the Bay.

The race marked his final start for trainer Ian Jory, who is moving to Saudi Arabia, where he will begin training in the fall. Owners Sharon and Wes Fitzpatrick turned Continental Red over to Adam Kitchingman last month.

"Ian did a great job," Kitchingman said. "I can't take much credit if he wins. He had a chiropractor adjust him" Wednesday. "He seemed to enjoy that."

Kitchingman feels Continental Red can play a significant role in the San Luis Obispo.

"I'm kind of lucky," he said. "There are no monsters in there."

was a multiple stakes winner in Argentina, including the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrino Stakes in December 2003, but is winless in four starts in this country. In the San Marcos, he finished sixth of eight as a 50-1 shot.

Trainer Paulo Lobo insisted Gorylla needed the start and will be better in the San Luis Obispo. The 8-year-old Gorylla can prove it with an upset win on Saturday.