02/06/2010 12:00AM

Extra distance suits Misremembered

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The deck was stacked against Misremembered in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, opening day of the Santa Anita winter meet.

"The post was killer for him," trainer Bob Baffert said, referring to the rail. "He made like three different moves in the race and looked like he was dead . . . Trevor [Denman] gave him the death call."

But just when Misremembered appeared to be backing up as the 2.30-1 favorite, he kicked into gear. That is, if you can call his grinding rally kicking in.

"He's a one-paced horse," Baffert said. "I didn't really want to run him seven furlongs, but it was a Grade 1."

On Saturday at Santa Anita, Misremembered stretches out to the more suitable distance of 1 1/8 miles as the likely favorite in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes. The $200,000 race is final leg of the Strub series for 4-year-olds, and the last chance for Misremembered to face his own age group before he runs March 6 the Santa Anita Handicap.

"That's the plan," Baffert said, and others in the Strub have the same Big Cap idea. The modest Strub field includes the two-three San Fernando finishers, Smart Bid and Rendezvous; Woodbine shipper Eagle Poise; and consistent in-the-money finisher Massone. It is not exactly a power-packed lineup, but it will suffice in a thin division.

M One Rifle won the Malibu, the first leg of the Strub series, then missed training due to weather and his campaign was postponed. Papa Clem won the San Fernando, the second leg of the Strub series, but was injured and retired.

That leaves Misremembered as the 4-year-old leader and a potential favorite for the Big Cap if he delivers Saturday. The 4-year-old by Candy Ride has won four races and $698,589 from nine starts, including Grade 2 wins in the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park and the Swaps at Hollywood Park. Baffert is looking forward the second half of the season with the Misremembered.

"I think he's the kind of horse that prefers dirt," Baffert said. "He moves better on dirt."

Baffert bred Misremembered, who is owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, and George Jacobs.

The main rival for Misremembered is Rendezvous, who had been off 2 1/2 months when he returned Jan. 16 with a third-place finish in the San Fernando.

"I thought he ran a great race," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, suggesting that Rendezvous was compromised by the dynamics of the race.

"He kind of got trapped down the rail a little bit, after being off quite a while," Hollendorfer said.

Winner of the Del Mar Derby last summer on grass, Rendezvous needs pace to flatter his late run. He did not get it in the San Fernando.

The opening half-mile went in 48.74 seconds, and six furlongs was equally slow in 1:13.12. It was too slow for the come-from-behind style of Rendezvous. But if the Strub unfolds as expected, then 4-for-16 Rendezvous can make an honest late run.

Eagle Poise, trained by Bill Mott, has worked fast over the Pro-Ride. The Strub will be his first start in California after running one-two in six starts on synthetic at Woodbine.

The Strub, race 9 on the 10-race card, also includes Square Eddie, Viscount, Gallant Son, Diferentkindagreat, and Heavenly Wind.