01/30/2010 12:00AM

Battle of Hastings returns in Leroidesanimaux


There are five stakes on Saturday's program. While the Las Virgenes is the most prestigious as a Grade 1, the $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds will have major implications for the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 and the $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds is a key prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

There are two turf stakes - the Leroidesanimaux Stakes over a mile and the Wishing Well Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs. The Leroidesanimaux is likely to draw a field much stronger than the $65,000 purse would reflect.

Fluke, the winner of the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in November, and Battle of Hastings, who earned more than $1 million last year with four stakes wins, are among the probable starters.

Battle of Hastings has not started since finishing second to The Usual Q.T. in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 29, two days after Fluke's upset in win in the Citation.

"We walked him for two weeks and then took him to the track every other day, kind of a working vacation," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "We didn't want to let him down all the way."

Owned by Michael House, Battle of Hastings is winless in his last four starts, but two of those losses were second-place finishes, by a nose to Rendezvous in the Del Mar Derby last September, and by a head to The Usual Q.T. in the Oak Tree Derby in November.