Potential handicap star Rock Hard Ten remains on course for Saturday's $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park, but stablemate Minister Eric will not run, trainer Richard Mandella said Wednesday.
Rock Hard Ten, winner of the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs Dec. 26, will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in the Strub, final leg of the prestigious Strub series for horses foaled in 2001.
"He got up and did it," Mandella said of the Malibu victory, the colt's first race in more than four months and the first under Mandella's supervision. "I hope he gets up and does it again. They're supposed to benefit (from the additional distance) but they don't always do what they're supposed to. But he's doing good. By all rights I think he should do better."
If Rock Hard Ten wins the Strub, he would join Mizzen Mast (2001), Diazo (1993) and Precisionist (1984) as horses that won those two legs of the series while skipping the San Fernando.Meanwhile, Minister Eric, who won the San Fernando Breeders' Cup (gr. II) last month, will not run. "He's not going to go," Mandella said. "I have nothing in mind for him right now. We're probably going to back off. I think he got a little jarred up from his little breeze (three furlongs Monday in :36 1/5). We don't want to go anywhere in a hurry with him. He won't miss any real time but we'll back off."
Rock Hard Ten has a 4-1-1 record from eight starts with earnings of $790,380.
Probable for the 58th running of the Strub: Love of Money, Victor Espinoza; Rock Hard Ten, Gary Stevens; Skipaslew, Kent Desormeaux; and With Distinction, Jon Court. Love of Money worked four furlongs Wednesday in :46 4/5.Trainer Jeff Mullins is reportedly on the fence with Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Castledale, who could run in the Strub or Saturday's San Antonio Handicap (gr. II). Castledale was fifth in the San Fernando, his first start since the 2004 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).Bob Baffert said Diamond Fury is possible for the Strub.
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