10/20/2005 12:00AM

Tanforan distance a question for most


ALBANY, Calif. - Nine runners will be asked to cover an increasingly rare distance in Saturday's $100,000 Tanforan Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

This is the first 1 3/8-mile turf stakes in northern California since the 2002 Yerba Buena at Bay Meadows.

The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry of Shadow Raider and Adreamisborn looms the favorite.

will set the pace, and seems capable of slowing things down enough to prove tough to beat, even at this long distance. Adreamisborn, who edged Shadow Raider at the wire in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap last out, is arguably the best older stakes runner in northern California.

But both of them will be running a quarter-mile farther than they have ever run before, which raises legitimate questions.

One runner who will love the distance is , seeking his first victory since winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Club at 1 1/2 miles last Dec. 4.

Trainer Donald Burke is confident, even though Pellegrino ran poorly in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf in his last start. "It was real humid back there," he said.

This could be Pellegrino's easiest assignment of the year.

"I'm not disparaging the competition at all," Burke said, "and he has been as good as he was last year, but he has been running against better."

Other entrants include Hatif, Gallant, and Noble Masterpiece, who have all won at the distance, and Secret Charm, the lone filly in the field, who missed by a nose at this distance in a Del Mar stakes.

And then there's , who has won six straight ranging in distance from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 3/4 miles at Emerald Downs but will be meeting much better in this field. In two starts on turf, Itstufftobegood has a win and a second.

Terry Gillihan takes over the training of Itstufftobegood for Neil Knapp, who remained in Washington.

History repeats on opening day

A Lil Alimony, who won the first race of the 2004 fall meeting, won the first race of the current meeting Wednesday, beating five rivals in a $40,000 claimer.

Ontrack handle opening day was $445,402. Down 12 percent from the 2004 opening day, which was on Nov. 10. Opening day attendance of 2,041 was down 17 percent from opening day 2004.