02/04/2005 1:00AM

Luck's bound to swing in favor of these six

Benoit & Associates
Areyoutalkintome hung on for third in the Sunshine Millions Sprint after pressing fractions of 20.79 and 43.75.

PHOENIX - The racing was great. There were some huge payoffs that no doubt left some people delirious with glee. Heavy favorites were beaten, and a heavily hyped horse lived up to his billing. Both tracks caught beautiful weather - the sun was shining.

But it didn't shine on everyone. There were at least six horses on the Sunshine Millions card who were significantly troubled by either traffic, pace, or circumstance, and they bear watching next time out.

Areyoutalkintome - When you're right on top of splits of 20.97, 43.75, and 56.28, you're not supposed to hang around for the finish. Still, despite pressing such insane splits, Areyoutalkintome kept on to finish third. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Are youtalkintome has done his best work at Santa Anita - where he has scored 4 of his 6 career wins and is now 4 for 7 overall - and gained more in stature because of this performance. Yes, the track played fast - the half-mile fraction was even faster 20 minutes earlier in the Oaks, at 43.64 - but provided this effort didn't cook Areyoutalkintome, he can be a big player in any upcoming sprint stakes at Santa Anita.

House of Fortune - After a strong year that saw her win two Grade 2 races, House of Fortune ended 2004 on a sour note, finishing seventh and last behind Azeri in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland in October. She was found to have a throat ulcer, however, so trainer Ron McAnally regrouped and pointed her specifically for the Distaff. Everything went according to plan, except that she missed a prep race earlier in the month because of rain. When the gates opened, House of Fortune had her saddle slip onto her withers, meaning jockey Gary Stevens had no control. That allowed her to go headlong into the first run, run up on horses' heels, and nearly go down. She stayed upright, but veered wildly after the incident. It didn't get much better after that. She steadied again and even seemed to bump Yearly Report on the far turn. Stevens then wrapped up on her, simply trying to bring her home in one piece. Live and fight another day, if you will.

Memorette - She couldn't have asked for a better pace setup in the Oaks. Trouble is, from her rail draw and with her closing style she got no breaks with traffic. While the speedsters went hell-for-leather early through dizzying splits, Memorette, as usual, bided her time at the back. No room materialized, however, and jockey Kent Desormeaux had to pitch her wide for the stretch run. Memorette powered home but was closer to the outer rail than the inner one, and in a race where they went six furlongs it seemed as if she ran seven.

Scrofa/Marwood - Two big efforts, two miserable trips in the Filly and Mare Turf. Scrofa got knocked around early, which cost her position. Yes, she is a closer, but surely jockey John Velazquez didn't want to be near last, miles out of it. Then, when Scrofa did get going, she had to run very wide. To her credit she finished strongly to be fourth, beaten just three-quarters of a length, and she has run big in three straight races. Scrofa can pick up a nice pot or two out West in the right spots. Marwood's trip may have been even worse, although she finished second by a neck. Unlike Scrofa, Marwood was able to get a decent position early, stalking from sixth. When she launched her bid into the lane she had the misfortune of being outside favored Moscow Burning, who swung out for the stretch drive. The result was a pretty good wallop applied by Moscow Burning, shoving Marwood to the outer lanes. Despite losing her action, Marwood got back into stride and came again, this time even stronger. If not for that incident at the top of the lane she might well have posted the 19-1 upset. After a pair of modest outings since changing barns, it appears Marwood is very much back on track for new trainer Stephen Margolis.

Classic Endeavor - Quicker horses and some traffic issues took him out of his normal game plan in the Classic, but this rejuvenated veteran didn't let that prevent him from running huge in defeat, as he rallied to be third. Classic Endeavor had won five in a row, the last four in wire-to-wire fashion, but more speed in this race and some traffic meant Pat Valenzuela had to be content to stalk from midpack. Just when they started to move on the far turn, they hit more traffic and had to steady, and that appeared to be that. To his credit, however, Classic Endeavor not only got going again but got going strongly. Unfortunately, his rally up the inside led him right into the heels of the tiring winner, and he became hemmed in by the runner-up. Valenzuela had to check hard, steady, then swing his mount out and around, but by then it was too late. He was definitely hindered, but the stewards made the right call to let the result stand; it wasn't anyone's fault. Sometimes it's not enough to be the best horse.