04/01/2004 1:00AM

Soud may try wire act again

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The $150,000 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita on Saturday is the rare stakes in which none of the entrants is coming off a win.

Not many even came close.

was second by a length in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 14 and Seinne was fourth by a neck in the Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds in March 2003.

Run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap is as much a prep for the San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 18 as it is a springtime goal.

Several of the runners are proven to be best beyond the Arcadia distance. Ballingarry, the winner of the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine in 2002, excels over 1 1/2 miles, a distance that also suits Diplomatic Bag, Gigli, and Researched. Statement, winless in five starts, and Toccet, who is making his sixth stakes appearance at the meeting but has lost his last 10 starts, are better suited by the Arcadia distance.

The race hinges on whether Soud can lead throughout, a tactic that nearly worked at Golden Gate, or whether one of the marathoners can successfully shorten up.

Researched is winless in two starts in this country, a fifth-place finish in the Carleton Burke Handicap last October and an eighth in the San Luis Obispo Handicap in February. In the San Luis Obispo, he was near the front to the final turn, a running style that does not suit the 5-year-old gelding, according to trainer Ben Cecil.

"He the kind that needs to be covered up," Cecil said.

Last year, the Cecil-trained Passinetti finished fourth in the Arcadia Handicap and returned to pull an upset in the San Juan Capistrano. A similar April campaign may be tried with Researched.

"We'll get a race into him and see where we go," Cecil said. "A mile and an eighth may be a little short, but he's shown some turn of foot in the morning."

Trainer Bobby Frankel has two starters, Diplomatic Bag and Gigli, both of whom are stakes winners over longer trips.

Diplomatic Bag was a minor stakes winner in France last year over about 1 9/16 miles. He has not started since October.

Gigli was a Group 1 winner in Brazil in 2002 and was winless in two starts for trainer Richard Mandella last year. The Arcadia marks Gigli's first start for Frankel.

"They're both distances horses, and I need to get a race into them," Frankel said.