Horse of the Year Tiznow returns in Saturday's Strub Stakes.

Horse of the Year Tiznow returns in Saturday's Strub Stakes.

Skip Dickstein

Horse of the Year Tiznow in Saturday's Strub Stakes

(Related story, Los Angeles Times)

Tiznow will face a similar cast of characters as he did while winning the Jan. 13 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) in Saturday's grade II Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. The nine-furlong Strub will be Tiznow's first start since adding the Horse of the Year title to his 2000 resume.

Wooden Phone, who was third in the San Fernando and last year's Malibu Stakes (gr. I), and San Fernando fifth-place finisher Nurdlinger, are both expected for the Strub, as are Jimmy Z and Tribunal. Tribunal, a half-brother to Chief's Crown, hasn't tried stakes company since running unplaced in last year's Louisiana Derby (gr. II). In his first race since April, Tribunal won a Santa Anita optional claiming event on Dec. 30 over Jimmy Z by 1 3/4 lengths. A possible sixth runner for the Strub is Capo Di Capo, from Richard Mandella's barn.

Tiznow's trainer Jay Robbins didn't even attend Tuesday's Eclipse Award dinner -- he stayed in California to prepare Tiznow for this weekend's race. Post positions for the Strub will be drawn Thursday morning.

"You have to take it day by day and week by week," said Robbins. "I just hope he stays healthy the rest of the year."

Tiznow has been battling minor foot ailments all winter but is in excellent condition now coming off of his win in the San Fernando.

"I think he'll be a better horse this year," said Robbins. "He's sounder and more mature."

Tiznow has won six of 10 starts with earnings of $3,544,830, second all-time behind Best Pal on the California-bred earnings list. Tiznow is currently working on a four-race win streak.

The Strub will be televised on the ESPN2 network at 6:30 p.m. (ET).

The field, weights, and jockeys for the $500,000 Strub are as follows, in post position order:

1. Jimmy Z, 117, Laffit Pincay Jr.
2. Nurdlinger, 117, Tyler Baze
3. Wooden Phone, 117, Corey Nakatani
4. Capo Di Capo, 117, Victor Espinoza
5. Tribunal, 117, Gary Stevens
6. Tiznow, 123, Chris McCarron