12/30/2004 1:00AM

Surface quandary

Lundy's Liability (right), winning the Goodwood on dirt, has not raced on turf since June 2003.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With rain having pounded the area in recent days, it is difficult to predict which of the 10 entrants will start in Saturday's $150,000 .

If the Grade 2 San Gabriel is run as designed over 1 1/8 miles on turf, it would give Habaneros a chance at his second graded-stakes win of the year at Santa Anita.

If the race were transferred to dirt, the top contenders would be recent stakes winners Lundy's Liability or Truly a Judge.

Trainer Bobby Frankel entered two horses - Lundy's Liability, the winner of the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap in his U.S. debut in October, and Epicentre, a stakes winner who has never run on dirt.

Lundy's Liability, a Brazilian-bred, began his career with two wins on turf in South Africa in June 2003. He has not raced on the surface since.

Frankel said he will wait to make a decision on which of his horses will start.

"I don't even want to think about it," he said.

Truly a Judge, the winner of the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap last month, will only start if the race is switched to dirt, trainer David Bernstein said.

"I hate to take a chance if he's running so well on dirt," Bernstein said.

He said Truly a Judge would be pointed for the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on dirt on Jan. 8 if the San Gabriel stays on turf.

Ray Bell, who trains Habaneros, is hoping that a forecast of rain for early Friday is incorrect and that the race stays on turf.

"I think he'll like a little give in the ground," Bell said.

The upset winner of the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf in late October, Habaneros finished a troubled eighth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 4.

"As much luck as he had in the Burke, it reversed itself at Hollywood," Bell said. "He didn't break that sharp. They were crawling along and he pulled for about three-quarters and said, If that's what you want me to do, I'll quit. It was a tougher race, too."

Grafton, who was stakes placed at Calder in November, and Continental Red would play important roles if the race stays on turf. Continental Red, who is making the 65th start of his career, would also start on a dry main track, trainer Ian Jory said.

"He hates soft turf," Jory said.