01/18/2010 12:00AM

San Marcos step toward big time


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Julio Canani thinks Loup Breton is the sort of horse that would fit in the Arlington Million later this year. Loup Breton will try to confirm his trainer's opinion in Monday's $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.


Loup Breton, 6, will be favored in the Grade 2 San Marcos, which is run over 1 1/4 miles. The race is scheduled for turf, but wet weather early Monday could lead to a transfer to the main track.

Canani wants to start Loup Breton on turf, and the expected rain makes him anxious.

"I'm going to lose 10 pounds by Monday," he Said saturday.

Owned by Wildenstein Stable, Loup Breton has won 4 of 20 starts and $587,614. He earned the bulk of his prize money in 2008, the year he placed in two group stakes in France.

Loup Breton won his U.S. debut in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 19, and was a fast-closing second as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf here on Dec. 27.

Last week, Canani scolded himself for Loup Breton's loss in the San Gabriel.

"I should never have run him," he said. "It was too short. I think he's a mile and a quarter horse."

Canani has two starters in the San Marcos, which has drawn a field of nine. He also trains Dynamic Range, who is making his stakes debut after winning two optional claimers since early November.

If the race is switched to the Pro-Ride main track, some in the field of nine would probably scratch. Zappa is likely to run only on the main track, trainer John Sadler said.

Trainer Humberto Ascanio said he would prefer to run Porfido on turf. Porfido, 8, has placed in seven turf stakes in the last two years, but has not won at that level.

"I've got confidence that he'll run good," Ascanio said.

Muhannak, the winner of the 2008 Breeders' Cup Marathon, will start on either surface, trainer Ben Cecil said. Cecil said jockey Martin Pedroza will be instructed to challenge the leaders at the last minute, and not to let Muhannak idle near the front.

"He doesn't want to go by other horses," Cecil said. "We'll try to keep him covered up and move at the last second. He's got a lot of ability."