02/02/2011 3:54PM

Honour the Deputy looks sharp in final prep for Strub


ARCADIA, Calif. – Honour the Deputy can prove to be a bargain, or a bust, when he starts in Saturday’s $200,000 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita.

The Grade 2 race for 4-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles will be Honour the Deputy’s stakes debut, and first start for Barnett Stables, Mark Dedomenico, and George Todaro since trainer Jerry Hollendorfer acquired the gelding on their behalf privately last fall.

There are reasons to think the acquisition was a timely one. A winner of 3 of 4 starts, Honour the Deputy is part of an eight-horse field, led by the multiple stakes winner Twirling Candy.

While Twirling Candy will be a heavy favorite, Honour the Deputy is capable of a placing, and maybe an upset. He left Hollendorfer’s assistant Dan Ward impressed after a half-mile workout in 46.60 seconds on Tuesday.

“He worked incredible and he flew the last part,” Ward said.

In Maryland last year, Honour the Deputy won 3 of 4 starts from six furlongs to a mile. In his last start there for trainer and co-owner Charles Assimakopoulos on Nov. 26, Honour the Deputy won an optional claimer over a mile by 2 1/4 lengths.

First impressions in California were guarded, however.

“The first time he worked here, he was looking at everything and he wasn’t comfortable,” Ward said.

A Florida-bred, Honour the Deputy was entered in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic last Saturday, but was scratched in favor of the Strub when he began to better acclimate to Santa Anita.

“That’s why we didn’t go to Florida,” Ward said. “He’d just gotten used to being here.”

Saturday, Honour the Deputy can prove he really belongs.