02/04/2011 7:43PM

Surprise in Strub?

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Twirling Candy is the even-money program favorite in the Strub Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita. It is a race Twirling Candy does not have to win.

Think it’s a crazy idea? Think again.

One year ago, everyone thought Misremembered would win the Strub. He finished second at 7-10.

Ten years ago, Tiznow was 3-10 to win the Strub. He finished second.

And way back in 1993, it was Bertrando at 3-10. He was such a “mortal lock” that several of his owners watched the race adjacent to the winner’s circle. Bertrando finished second.

Yes, the Strub has a longshot history.

As for the good 4-year-old Twirling Candy, he will be favored to accomplish something he has yet to accomplish – win a nine-furlong race on the main track.

Make no mistake. Twirling Candy is the fastest horse in the field. He can win.

But what if going from a record seven-furlong sprint to a mile and one-eighth route is too much? What if Twirling Candy misfires? Then what?

Then the 2011 Strub is ripe for a crazy upset.

Oilisblackgold was slow from the gate Jan. 17 in a first-level allowance. He steadied early, got keen, was shuffled back at the half-mile pole, looped with a crazy four-wide rally on the far turn, then hung the length of the lane.

It was not a good finish after Oilisblackgold got messed up early.

Oilisblackgold returned Jan. 31. with a sizzling five-furlong work in :58.40. Drawn outside, he figures to press a tepid pace. Only two starts back, Oilisblackgold finished second to Gladding, a co-favorite Sunday in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes.

Oilisblackgold probably is not good enough to win the Strub.

It’s a big jump from N1X to Grade 2.

But if Twirling Candy misfires, then the 2011 Strub is wide open.

That is why Oilisblackgold, 8-1 longshot trained by Craig Dollase and scheduled to be ridden by Victor Espinoza, is poised to outrun his price Saturday in race 9.

Don’t say you were not warned.