01/14/2010 12:00AM

Expect a major rebound by Mythical Power


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Last month at Santa Anita, Mythical Power was asked to do the near impossible. Unraced since winning the 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Derby on dirt May 9, he returned in the Grade 1 Malibu on Dec. 26 against 12 rivals going seven furlongs on a synthetic surface.

The ambitious placement showed in his performance. He raced in the rear half of the pack throughout and crossed the wire 10th, beaten 6 1/4 lengths.

There was seemingly nothing encouraging about his race. He never offered a significant bid and didn't encounter any major traffic problems to excuse his race.

But his mere placement in that Malibu reflects how highly he is regarded by trainer Bob Baffert, and that hints a much-improved performance from the colt in Saturday's Grade 2 San Fernando at Santa Anita.

Baffert doesn't run horses for seats in the stakes room. He runs to win. So by running Mythical Power in that Malibu, when he was also starting the favorite and eventual second-place finisher, Misremembered, he was telling horseplayers how well Mythical Power was doing.

Off the loss, Baffert seemingly has not lost his faith. Rather than back off and point for a second-level allowance with this colt, he instead puts him right back into the graded stakes fight, coming on the heels of two bullet workouts.

Jockey Joel Rosario stays aboard Mythical Power, a positive sign from the much-sought-after rider, and one who had ridden fellow San Fernando entrant Rendezvous regularly.

The feeling is that we are going to see Mythical Power run to his potential in the San Fernando, benefiting from a fitness-building race in the Malibu, and from a return to a route. The talent is there - as he showed in winning the Lone Star Derby with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

He benefits from being well drawn in post 6, a position from which he should be able to settle into a comfortable stalking position, just the kind of trip he wants. He is the choice at what should be a square price to upset Papa Clem and company in the San Fernando.

Shudacudawudya can upset

Keeping the focus out West, the California Derby at Golden Gate presents another potentially rewarding betting opportunity, in this case on Shudacudawudya.

Already a stakes winner, this colt has run three consecutive Beyers of 84 or higher, numbers faster than any of his five opponents has ever run. Yet Shudacudawudya won't be the favorite - first, because he has yet to run long, and second, due to the presence of three Southern California shippers, led by the unbeaten Connemara.

But none of those three has experience over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate, as he does, and Connemara, in particular, figures to be overbet, having won his two starts with eye-catching late rallies and being a half-brother to Lion Heart trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Russell Baze.

I see two weaknesses in Connemara. He has not run faster than a 77 Beyer and he has been training slowly since he last raced Nov. 4.

Whether Shudacudawudya has the stamina to route effectively remains to be seen, but I am encouraged by how honest this horse has been, and how well he has relaxed in recent starts. Besides those attributes, he is classy, as he showed in running close third in the Stuka Stakes behind the promising Tiz Chrome.

Mr. Porter an overlay at 6-1

Also of interest Saturday is the John E. Jackson Memorial Stakes from Fair Grounds, a stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds. The field of seven appears evenly matched, hopefully creating value on my selection, Mr. Porter.

Despite being the defending champion in the race, he is 6-1 on the morning line, odds at which he would warrant a bet. This is a consistent runner and a horse better than what he showed in the Louisiana Champs Day Sprint, when he finished a non-threatening fourth.

He could not keep up with a blazing pace that day, and simply lacked the late kick to prove a major factor. But with the pace of this race likely to be slower, he should find himself able to stay within striking distance.

James Graham, who was aboard for Mr. Porter's win in the Jackson last year, returns in the irons, and the winning owner/trainer combination of Maggi Moss and Tom Amoss add to his appeal.