03/19/2006 12:00AM

Baze ends up on Super Strut and wins Crystal Water


ARCADIA, Calif. - When Swiss Lad was scratched early Sunday from the $113,100 Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita, jockey Tyler Baze was suddenly without a mount. But when Corey Nakatani took off midway through the card, trainer Craig Dollase reached out to Baze to sub for Nakatani on Super Strut.

It was a perfect match. Super Strut cut loose with a strong turn of foot on the far turn, then outdueled 62-1 shot Mr. Wolverine and 3-2 favorite Uncle Denny in a thrilling stretch drive to take the Crystal Water. Super Strut ($19) won by a nose, with Mr. Wolverine a nose better than Uncle Denny in the one-mile grass race for California-breds.

"I'd like to thank Corey for taking off, and Craig for me to ride the horse," Baze said.

Super Strut was returning to the turf, his preferred surface, after racing on dirt in the Sunshine Millions Classic last time out. He was eighth in the field of 11 midway through the race, then moved powerfully while five paths wide to get the lead. Uncle Denny -- who had set early fractions of 23.09 seconds, 46.81 seconds, and 1:10.84 for the first six furlongs -- battled on bravely between horses, while Mr. Wolverine came up the rail.

Super Strut was timed in 1:35.14 for one mile on a course rated firm despite rain the previous evening.

"They've done a really great job with this turf course," said Dollase, who trains Super Strut for Tom Arndt, Tom and Lynne Miller, and the Class Racing Stable partnership headed by Joe Masino.

Super Strut, 6, is a gelding by Lil Tyler. He has won 6 of 20 starts, with all his victories coming on the turf. He is 0 for 6 on dirt. This was his first stakes win. He had defeated a third-level allowance field on the turf earlier this meet.