Updated on 09/17/2011 12:51PM

Paceless race for Megahertz


ARCADIA, Calif. - The setting will be Santa Anita, but it might as well be Longchamp. Saturday's $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap for older female turf runners features five horses who have the same midpack style. There is absolutely no speed in the race. The 1 1/8-mile grass race figures to be run slow early, fast late, much like in Europe, and much to the probable liking of the expected heavy favorite, .

A slow pace is something Megahertz has overcome quite frequently, most notably in last summer's Grade 1 John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap at Del Mar, when she ran down the likes of Tates Creek and Dublino. There is no one of that stature in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio, which should find Megahertz an odds-on favorite.

She is deserving. Megahertz, trained by Bobby Frankel, has won 4 times in 7 starts at Santa Anita and has finished in the money in 6 of 7 starts here. The only time she finished out of the money was in her last start, the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, in which she closed furiously to finish fifth, 3 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Islington.

There is no solid second choice, which usually translates into there being a heavier favorite than usual. Because of the short field, and the likelihood Megahertz will be a short price, the San Gorgonio is being run as the third race to keep it out of the pick six.

The pint-sized Garden in the Rain was a close seventh, beaten just three lengths, in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30. She has finished first or second in 10 of 12 starts on Santa Anita's turf.

Mer de Corail finished just a half-length behind Garden in the Rain when eighth in the Matriarch. That was only her second start in North America. She was compromised by breaking from post 13 in the 14-horse field, and she was fanned wide into the stretch.

"She should run a good race. I expect her to finish in the money," said her trainer, Patrick Biancone. "But she should. There's only five runners."