04/13/2006 12:00AM

Lightning Hit 'fit enough' for La Puente


ARCADIA, Calif. - When trainer Ron McAnally was planning Lightning Hit's campaign for early 2006, he did not envision that the European import would still be seeking his first start in the middle of April.

Bad weather and the failure of some races to draw sufficient entries have kept off the racetrack until Saturday's $100,000 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf at Santa Anita.

While the La Puente will mark Lightning Hit's first start since finishing fourth in a stakes in Germany last September, McAnally is expecting a good race.

"I think he's fit enough," McAnally said. "We haven't worked him beyond six furlongs, but he's had several of those."

Owned by Tom Lenner, Lightning Hit has one win in three starts, a maiden race in Ireland last August.

The La Puente is not a difficult spot for Lightning Hit's debut. Many of the nine entrants are only maiden winners.

The field includes Stratham, who won the restricted Pinjara Stakes last October; Genre, who was third in the Pasadena Stakes last month; the filly Horse B With You, who won the Scottsdale Handicap at Turf Paradise on April 1; and the promising maiden winner Zann.

Similar to Lightning Hit, had a disrupted winter, missing two stakes targets. The Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park was canceled because of poor turf conditions. The Hill Rise Stakes here in January was moved to the main track because of wet weather.

Stratham finished fourth in the Pasadena Stakes on March 18, his first start since October.

"I think he'll definitely improve off the race," trainer Tim Yakteen said.

Owned by Jerry Jamgotchian, Stratham is coupled with the European import Global Genius, a winner of one of five starts.

finished third in the Pasadena Stakes, his first race on turf since finishing third in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, England, last October. Last November, Genre finished second in the Real Quiet Stakes on the main track at Hollywood Park, and was promoted to first when Bob and John, who won the Wood last Saturday, was disqualified.

In the Pasadena, Genre rallied from last in a field of seven to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, To Sender. "The pace ruined our chances," trainer Ben Cecil said. "They walked."

Cecil is banking on a quicker pace in the La Puente.

The pace should come from Scootin George, who has run well in two starts on turf, winning a maiden race and finishing second in an allowance for California-breds.