12/19/2008 12:00AM

History challenge

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Friday's 57th running of the $250,000 Malibu Stakes on opening day of the winter-spring season at Santa Anita is the initial leg of three stakes that for years have been referred to as the Strub series.

Limited to horses who will be

4-year-olds in the new year, the series also includes the $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes on Jan. 17 and the $300,000 Strub Stakes on Feb. 7.

Ironically, the Malibu, which became a Grade 1 in 1980, has in recent years become more important than the Strub, which has been downgraded to a Grade 2.

And while the distance of the Malibu has remained seven furlongs since its inception in 1952, both the San Fernando and Strub have been shortened - the San Fernando from

1 1/8 miles to 1 1/16 miles and the Strub from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles.

In the past two decades, fewer national champions and classic winners have contested the series, but for many of the early years, the three races regularly attracted not only classic winners, but future Hall of Fame members.

Test your knowledge of the history of the Malibu Stakes and the Strub series.

1.The Malibu was known as the Malibu Sequet Stakes for its first six runnings, and the Strub was run as the Santa Anita Maturity from its inception in 1948 until 1962. It was renamed the Charles H. Strub Stakes in 1963 and shortened to just the Strub Stakes in 1994.

The first horse to capture all three races of what is now the Strub series was a Horse of the Year and future Hall of Fame member. The following year, a popular California campaigner and a horse often called "the best Indiana-bred ever" won all three of the series. Name the two horses.

2. Kentucky Derby winner Determine won his first start at age 4 on New Year's Day 1955 in the Malibu Sequet Stakes. In the San Fernando Stakes, he had a troubled trip and finished fourth. Two weeks later, he finished second in the rich Maturity, but after a long look at the films, the stewards disqualified the winner and placed Determine first.

The disqualification had major ramifications that would affect racing in California for the next 30 years. Name the horse who originally finished first.

3. Up until the 1980s, it was not unusual for champion 3-year-olds to regularly set their sights on the Strub Series.

At the end of both 1966 and 1967, these two future Hall of Fame members were at Santa Anita in quest of the three races, but neither was able to turn the trick. Both scored fairly easy victories in their respective editions of the Malibu and San Fernando, but one skipped the Strub due to injury and the other was nipped at the wire in the Strub. Name the two super horses.

4. It has been more than two decades since one horse has captured the three races in the Strub series. This Fred W. Hooper Florida homebred, who was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 2003, was the last to accomplish the feat.

A son of Crozier, this bay won 17 stakes races - 13 of them graded - over five seasons. He competed in the Breeders' Cup four times, winning the Sprint in 1985 and finishing third in the Classic in 1986. Name him.

5.Silver Charm is the most recent winner of a Triple Crown race to win a race in the Strub series. He finished second in the Malibu and then won both the San Fernando and Strub in 1998 after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness the preceding year.

A decade earlier, Santa Anita fans were treated to a Strub series that featured two winners of Triple Crown races from the prior season. The two colts each competed in all three races - winning one apiece. Name the two horses.

Answers

1.The year 1958 belonged to Round Table. He won his first seven starts of the year, including the San Fernando Stakes and the Santa Anita Maturity. His final win of 1957 had been in the Malibu Stakes in late December.

Round Table won 14 races in all in 1958 - equaling or setting a track record in half of them. In his final start of the year - the Hawthorne Gold Cup in October - he pushed his lifetime earnings over $1.3 million, surpassing Nashua as the world's richest racehorse.

The following season, the Indiana-bred Hillsdale became the second horse to win the Malibu, San Fernando, and Maturity.

Hillsdale had a signature year in 1959 - winning 10 of 13 starts and finishing second in the other three. He beat Round Table twice, but finished second in the year-end voting for best older horse to that champion.

Hillsdale had the honor of winning the first-ever stakes race at the new Aqueduct in 1959 when he captured the Aqueduct Handicap under 132 pounds.

2. Mrs. Lucille Markey, owner of Calumet Farm - at the time still the most powerful and successful stable in the world - had flown from Europe to California expressly to watch her magnificent filly Miz Clementine in the 1955 Santa Anita Maturity.

The filly fought with Determine throughout the stretch and beat the gray colt by neck. In a controversial ruling, the stewards disqualified the filly for interference in the stretch. Reporting on the race, the renowned journalist Joe Estes wrote that the two horses "brushed lightly" and "neither . . . broke stride."

Markey was so enraged she vowed that Calumet would never again run a horse in California. To her death in 1982, she remained true to her word. When Criminal Type won the 1990 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita, he became the first Calumet Farm stakes winner in California in 35 years.

3. Buckpasser entered the starting gate for the Dec. 31, 1966, Malibu Stakes off 12 consecutive victories (all in stakes races). He was champion 3-year-old and undisputed Horse of the Year. He won the Malibu and came back to capture the San Fernando, making it 14 straight wins.

A minor injury sidelined Buckpasser, forcing him to miss the Strub. He came back in May to make it 15 straight by winning the Metropolitan Mile in New York.

The following season, reigning champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year Damascus scored handy victories in the Malibu and San Fernando stakes.

But in a shocker, the gray Most Host (carrying 114 pounds) fought Damascus (126 pounds) through the length of the stretch in the Strub and beat the champion and 1-5 favorite by a head.

Damascus spent the remainder of 1968 in the shadow of another super horse, Dr. Fager.

4. Precisionist was one of the most versatile runners of the 1980s. In 1985, the year in which he captured the Breeders' Cup Sprint and was named sprint champion of the year, he also won the San Fernando and Strub Stakes, the latter at 1 1/4 miles. He had earlier won the Malibu Stakes.

Retired to stud in 1987, Precisionist had fertility problems and was returned to the races in 1988, when he captured two more stakes and was beaten in photos in two others.

In 2006, Precisionist became the first resident of the Georgetown, Ky., location of Old Friends. He died later that year of cancer at age 25.

5.Snow Chief was the 2-1 favorite in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, but finished nowhere as another California-based runner, Ferdinand, came from 20 lengths back to win the 112th running of the Louisville classic.

Two weeks later, Snow Chief turned the tables in the Preakness, winning by four lengths over second-place Ferdinand.

In the Strub Series the following season, Ferdinand came from far back to beat favored Snow Chief in the Malibu. The duo finished third and fourth in the San Fernando and then came back in a one-two, ding-dong battle in the Strub, with Snow Chief besting Ferdinand by a nose.