03/23/2006 12:00AM

Tanaka entry tough to topple


ARCADIA, Calif. - When Atlando and King's Drama were coupled in the betting last month in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap, it did not matter to bettors which Gary Tanaka-owned gelding won the 1 1/2-mile turf race at odds of 2-5.

King's Drama tired to third, but Atlando rescued the entry by scoring a three-quarter-length win over T.H. Approval.

Those same three principals entered the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap on Saturday, and again there is no reason to discriminate. Atlando and King's Drama are coupled and will be heavily favored in the 1 1/2-mile turf race, which has 10 entrants.

Although same-owner stakes entries in California can be uncoupled with consent from the California Horse Racing Board, racing officials will not split the Tanaka entry in the San Luis Rey. Hip-hip hooray - odds-on again.

Grade 1 winner King's Drama was returning from a three-month layoff when he lost the San Luis Obispo. Was he short? "No, the pace got him beat," trainer Bobby Frankel declared. Racing in second position behind a rapid pace (46.61 and 1:10.84), King's Drama made the lead on the far turn but tired to third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

Frankel said he believes King's Drama was too close to the lead, and he is looking for a different trip Saturday.

"He can track, like the [Grade 1 Man o' War] last year in New York, where he was 10 lengths off," Frankel said. King's Drama rallied to second in that race, beaten a neck by Better Talk Now.

, who is 8 for 27 in his career, will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela on Saturday under top weight of 121 pounds. If he can take back off the pace likely to be set by Wild Buddy, King's Drama can win.

complements the entry with an opposite, come-from-behind style. What will it take to win again? "A repeat of his last race," said trainer Darrell Vienna. Is it that simple?

Atlando, the 117-pound second highweight, is making his fourth start of the meet. Jose Valdivia fills in for out-of-town rider Martin Pedroza, and with Wild Buddy in the field, there will be sufficient speed at which to run. Atlando has won six races and $332,765 from 16 starts.

makes his second start following a layoff, and trainer Eduardo Inda said he believes T.H. Approval can win "if he doesn't bounce, like people say he will." T.H. Approval has won four races and $374,288 from 20 starts, including the San Juan Capistrano last winter.

One Off, a Neil Drysdale-trained horse who finished second in a classified allowance Feb. 16, was supplemented to the San Luis Rey. Golden Rahy, formerly trained by Frankel, will race Saturday for his new trainer, Doug O'Neill.

Other runners include Bullistic, Eastern Sand, Totally Platinum, and Balustrade.