12/29/2004 1:00AM

Rain looms over weekend turf stakes

Lundy's Liability may go in the San Gabriel, which could be rained off turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Two days of near-constant rain wreaked havoc with training schedules at Santa Anita on Tuesday and Wednesday and led to the cancellation of turf racing on Wednesday and Thursday.

The storyline could be the same through the weekend. With rain forecast for Friday and Sunday, there is concern that the turf course may not be used this week, or will be used sparingly.

Three of four stakes this week are on turf - Friday's Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course, and Saturday's Hill Rise Stakes and San Gabriel Handicap.

One race on Wednesday and two on Thursday were scheduled for turf, but were switched to the main track.

Track superintendent Steve Wood said four inches of rain had fallen in the 36-hour period ending at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He said another inch of rain fell later through Wednesday morning. At lunchtime, skies were partly cloudy - for the moment.

"The rain will be diminishing, but we're not out of the woods for the next couple of days," Wood said.

He said the persistent rain had led to a few minor washouts on the main track, which was being dealt with on Wednesday morning before racing began.

"We'll get a couple of hours to work with it," Wood said.

The current rainstorm, combined with strong rain earlier in the month, has Wood concerned that this could be a wet winter at Santa Anita.

"We usually see it in January or February," he said. "We never see it in December."

Frankel undecided about San Gabriel starters

There were only three recorded workouts at Santa Anita on Wednesday, all on the training track. Many horses jogged or galloped on the outside portion of the main track.

The weather will affect Saturday's $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap, which is scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf. Trainer Bobby Frankel said he was unsure whether the major stakes winners Leroidesanimaux, Lundy's Liability, or Nothing to Lose would start. Leroidesanimaux has won five consecutive turf races, including three stakes. Lundy's Liability won the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on dirt here in October.

Leroidesanimaux and Nothing to Lose, the winner of the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland in October, are the 120-pound topweights. Lundy's Liability was assigned 119 pounds, two more than the Frankel-trained Epicentre.

Continental Red, the 2002 California-bred horse of the year, is likely to start, and may be the 118-pound starting highweight if Frankel doesn't run any of his horses.

Continental Red will be 9 on Saturday, and will be making his 65th career start. Owned by Sharon and Wes Fitzpatrick, Continental Red is being pointed for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds here on Jan. 29.

Trainer Ian Jory said Continental Red would not start if the San Gabriel is run on soft turf.

"That's the one thing he doesn't like," he said. "He likes the mud. He just likes a firm surface [on turf]."

A winner of $1,180,358, Continental Red is winless in 13 starts dating back to the Quicken Tree Stakes at Hollywood Park in June 2003, a span that includes a second in the 2003 San Gabriel. The race was not run during the 2004 calendar year.

Continental Red ended a five-month break on Dec. 4 with a third-place finish in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on turf. He rallied from sixth on the final turn along the rail to miss by three-quarters of a length.

"He wouldn't have been 100 percent tight," Jory said of the comeback race. "I think he'll be tough."

Revello looks for first stakes win in El Conejo

One trainer not concerned about surface is Ted H. West, who starts Revello in Sunday's $100,000 El Conejo Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs.

The first sprint of the meeting for older horses, the El Conejo could mark Revello's first stakes win. A 7-year-old on Saturday, when all Thoroughbreds have birthdays, Revello was claimed by Jeffrey Sengara for $40,000 last March.

West is anxious to try new tactics. For most of this year, Revello stalked the pace, a style that led to third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in July and the California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows in December.

After being given a three-month break, Revello returned to finish third in a seven-furlong allowance race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 12 after challenging for the early lead.

"He did that on his own in the last race," West said. "We were strangle-holding him to keep him off the pace. I've been looking forward to running him 5 1/2 or six furlongs. He's got sub-44-second speed" for a half-mile.

Revello has been assigned 113 pounds for the El Conejo, well below the 118 pounds that McCann's Mojave will carry as the expected starting highweight.

McCann's Mojave won the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap here last March, and has not started since finishing second to Speightstown in the Churchill Downs Handicap in May.