RESTRICTED TO 4-YEAR-OLDS, PRESTIGIOUS STRUB ATTRACTS FIELD OF EIGHT AT 1 1/16 MILES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 15, 2014)–Two of America’s top trainers, Jerry Hollendorfer and Bob Baffert, each send out a pair of highly talented 4-year-olds in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Strub Stakes at 1 1/16 miles: Hollendorfer will be represented by Hear The Ghost and Zeewat, while Baffert will saddle Shakin It Up and Governor Charlie in the 67th running of Santa Anita’s showcase event for 4-year-olds only.
Hear The Ghost, a winner of the Grade II San Felipe March 9, and a leading Derby candidate last spring, made a determined run through the lane but finished second as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles Native Diver Handicap Dec. 14, a half length behind his stablemate, Blueskiesnrainbows, who won gate to wire and came back to take last Saturday’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita.
A Kentucky-bred gelding by Ghostzapper, Hear The Ghost, who stalked the early pace in the Native Diver, went to the sidelines following his San Felipe score and was second as the even money favorite in his comeback race, a second condition allowance going 6 ½ furlongs Nov. 7 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Saturday’s Strub will be his third start off the bench and he has worked five times since the Native Diver, his most recent drill a half mile in 48.60 on Tuesday at Santa Anita. Owned by Halo Farms and Hollendorfer, Hear The Ghost has two wins and a three seconds from five starts and earnings of $262,800.
Hollendorfer will also be represented by hard-hitting Zeewat, who rallied from far back to finish third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the opening day Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs–earning a 103 Beyer Speed figure. A winner of the seven furlong Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita Nov. 2, Zeewat’s only previous attempt at 1 1/16 miles resulted in victory in the California Derby on Jan. 12 of last year at Golden Gate Fields.
Owned by George Todaro and Hollendorfer, Zeewat has an impressive resume of six wins and two thirds from 12 starts, with earnings of $319,150. He’ll again be handled by leading rider Rafael Bejarano, who has been up for his last two starts.
Baffert’s Shakin It Up closed from the clouds to take the Malibu by a half length, earning a top Beyer number of 106. Off at 17-1, the son of Midnight Lute was ridden by David Flores, but will be ridden Saturday by Mike Smith, as Flores has relocated to ride full-time in Singapore.
A winner of the Grade II, seven furlong San Vicente Feb. 17, Shakin It Up went to the bench following a well-beaten fourth place finish in the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles Sunland Derby March 24–his only try at two turns.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Pegram, Shakin It Up is owned by Dennis Cardoza and Pegram and has earnings of $367,600. He’ll be in search of his fourth win in career start number seven.
Baffert will also send out comebacking Governor Charlie, who’s been idle since well-beaten in the Grade I Preakness Stakes May 18. Like his stablemate, “Chuck” is a homebred son of Midnight Lute owned in-part by Mike Pegram.
Prior to his Preakness try, Governor Charlie took command after a half mile and was a dazzling five length winner of the Grade III Sunland Derby. Owned by Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, he’ll again be ridden by Martin Garcia who has been aboard for all four of his starts. He has earnings of $444,800, from two wins and a second place finish.
A winner of the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles turf Twilight Derby Nov. 1, the John Shirreffs-trained Rookie Sensation showed the way and tired to run fifth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, in the Grade I, 1 ¼ miles Hollywood Derby Dec. 1.
A Stronach Stables homebred colt by Unbridled’s Song, Rookie Sensation has routed on turf in his last four starts and will be trying natural dirt in the Strub for the first time in his seventh career start. Although he made the early running in the Hollywood Derby, he has rallied strongly from off the pace in all but one of his five previous tries and in all probability, will employ similar tactics Saturday.
Rookie Sensation will be ridden for the sixth time in-a-row by Victor Espinoza and will be in search of his fourth career win.
Heir of Storm appeared to be a vastly improved horse when making his first start for trainer Peter Miller on Nov. 1, as he earned a 102 Beyer in an eye catching 4 ¼ length allowance win going seven furlongs. His next start came in the Malibu and he failed to menace, finishing a well-beaten seventh at 6-1.
A Florida-bred colt by Wildcat Heir, Heir of Storm has two wins from eight starts and will be ridden for the first time by Joe Talamo. He’s owned by Gary Barber, Brous Stable, Len Friedman and Wachtel Stable.
Trainer Paddy Gallagher’s Dice Flavor hopes to be running late with Jose Valdivia, Jr. up and the son of Scat Daddy was a respectable third in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Swaps Stakes July 4 prior to winning the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles turf La Jolla Handicap Aug. 10.
Owned by Oda Racing Stable and US Equine, Dice Flavor rallied from far off the pace to win the Grade III, 1 1/18 miles El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 16 and will hope to improve off of his fast finishing fifth place run in the Grade II, one mile turf Sir Beaufort Dec. 26.
The complete field for the Strub Stakes, to be run as the eighth on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Dice Flavor, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 123; Rookie Sensation, Victor Espinoza, 123; Shakin It Up, Mike Smith, 118; Zeewat, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Governor Charlie, Martin Garcia, 118; Hear the Ghost, Corey Nakatani, 120; Heir of Storm, Joe Talamo, 118, and Say Ow, Tyler Baze, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. Santa Anita will guarantee $150,000 in each Saturday’s Pick Six pool for the remainder of the Winter Meet.