12/27/2008 1:00AM

Lucky J.H. makes a rare appearance


ARCADIA, Calif. - The racing campaigns of the older horse Lucky J.H. tend to be brief - and memorable.

He made only three starts in 2006, three in 2007, and three so far this year, with each campaign highlighted by at least a stakes placing, and in two of those years at least one stakes win.

When he returns from a layoff of more than eight months in Monday's $70,000 Impressive Luck Handicap at Santa Anita, Lucky J.H. will be after his fourth stakes win. The Impressive Luck is run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

"He doesn't make many starts, but he runs well when he does," trainer Carla Gaines said. "He's such a pleasure, though. When he's sound, he's good."

Gaines said that Lucky J.H. has suffered from quarter cracks. After winning the Sensational Star Handicap on the hillside turf course last April, Lucky J.H. was being prepared for a start at Hollywood Park when he was sidelined.

"I think when I turned him out he had three quarter cracks," Gaines said.

Owned by breeder John Harris, Lucky J.H. has won 7 of 17 starts and $570,755. In the Sensational Star, Lucky J.H. stalked a quick pace and won by three-quarters of a length. Gaines is hoping that Lucky J.H. can have a similar trip on Monday.

"I think he's pretty versatile," she said. "A mile might be his best distance. I think 6 1/2 furlongs is a good place run him off a long layoff."

Lucky J.H. is the only 2008 stakes winner in the Impressive Luck field. Two others won their last start - Banner Lodge and Majestic Diamond.

Banner Lodge is making his stakes debut. Trained by John Sadler, Banner Lodge has won 2 of 3 starts on turf, both in sprints, including an allowance race on the hillside turf course in September.

"He's an improving horse and he's in good shape," Sadler said.

Banner Lodge has won from the front and by stalking the pace.

"He's shown a little versatility," Sadler said. "When he won down the hill, he came from off the pace."

Majestic Diamond is making his second start in this country. A New Zealand-bred 5-year-old gelding, he won an optional claimer over six furlongs on turf in a 32-1 upset at Hollywood Park last month.