03/31/2006 12:00AM

Surf Cat looms large

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Surf Cat, 5 for 9 with earnings over $400,000, will carry high weight of 119 pounds on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The most likely winner on the Sunday card at Santa Anita is worth backing at odds-on. Well, maybe.

"I never bet on 3-5 shots," Surf Cat's trainer Bruce Headley cautioned. "But if everybody gets the same break, and there is no bad luck for anybody, then it's a good bet."

towers over four rivals Sunday in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint. Afterwards, Surf Cat will stretch out in a three-race handicap series at Hollywood Park - the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 13; the Grade 2 Californian on June 17; and the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 8.

"I'd love to win that series," Headley said.

First things first - Surf Cat will be odds-on to give Headley his sixth win in the Potrero Grande. Based on the 4-year-old's super comeback win Feb. 18 - Surf Cat earned a 110 Beyer winning the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs - anything short of clear-cut victory will be disappointing.

The field for the $200,000 Potrero Grande includes , who will add goggles. None are in the same league as Surf Cat, whose dominance is so apparent that the race is positioned before the pick six. The Potrero Grande is race 4 on a 10-race card.

A son of Sir Cat who is owned by Headley's wife, Aase, and Marsha Naify, Surf Cat has won five races and $412,420 from nine starts.

"He has such a graceful long stride; he's got a reach like a cheetah chasing his prey," Headley said.

He also inherited an intense personality from his grandsire, Storm Cat.

"They have fire in them, and he's true to that type," Headley said, describing Storm Cat bloodlines.

Surf Cat drew the outside post in the Potrero Grande, and will be ridden by Alex Solis. Surf Cat enters as the 119-pound topweight, and is expected to start in the range of 2-5 odds.

"Headley's horse is a cinch," said Oceanus's trainer, A.C. Avila.

But that won't stop Avila from trying to score an upset with Oceanus, a closing sprinter. Oceanus finished third in the San Carlos but bombed next time in an allowance, and Avila hopes he will improve with goggles.

"He hates dirt in his face," Avila said.

As for the rest of the field, Grinding It Out's allowance win last out was his second straight; Areyoutalkintome is a graded-stakes winner; and Keep on Punching prefers two turns.