The respective winners of the first two legs of the three-race Strub Series will face each other for the first time in the series finale, Saturday's $400,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
Mizzen Mast switched from turf to dirt for trainer Bobby Frankel in the first race of the series, and the move proved successful as the then 3-year-old won the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day of the meet. 17 days later, Western Pride, who skipped the Malibu, took the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II), with Mizzen Mast kept in the barn to point for the Strub.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out a pair of colts in the Strub, Orientate and Scorpion. Each horse has seen action in one leg of the Strub. Scorpion finished 12th in the Malibu, then the skipped the San Fernando to prep for the Strub in a 6 ½-furlong turf allowance race in which he finished ninth. Orientate won the grassy Sir Beaufort Stakes on the day of the Malibu, then came back to run a game front-end race in the San Fernando only to finish second.
"When you get a grade II with that much money in it, you have to take advantage of it," Lukas said. "You gotta give the horse a chance -- he (Orientate) was a jump or two short of winning the San Fernando. He could have needed that race a little bit, he only had that mile grass race (Sir Beaufort) and that wasn't a very tough race on him. He could be a little better going into this one, but I'm not sure of that."
As for Scorpion, Lukas isn't bothered by his recent performances.
"His chances were compromised the last two races," the conditioner said. "In the Malibu, he displaced his soft palette, and that took care of that. Then we tried him on the grass, and he just lost touch with it down the hill. ... When he puts it together, he's a good horse. He's just been ziggin' when he should be zaggin'. We thought he merited a chance in the Strub, (his late-running style) doesn't compromise Orientate's chances, it gives us an opportunity to get him another (graded-stakes win) at a distance that we know he can get. If it doesn't work, we'll go back and re-evaluate it."
Orientate and Scorpion will not run as a coupled entry.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile Strub, from the rail out, with jockeys and weights: Giant Gentleman, Alex Solis, 117; Fancy As, Gary Stevens, 119; Palmeiro, Laffit Pincay Jr., 117; Mizzen Mast, Kent Desormeaux, 121; Western Pride, Garrett Gomez, 123; Momentum, Corey Nakatani, 119; Scorpion, Mike Smith, 123; Pie N Burger, Victor Espinoza, 117; Discreet Hero, Patrick Valenzuela, 119; Orientate, Chris McCarron, 119, and I Love Silver, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117.