01/13/2010 12:00AM

Mr. Hot Stuff still must prove himself

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - One of these days Mr. Hot Stuff will live up to his reputation as a full brother to the retired five-time stakes winner Colonel John and win an important stakes himself.

At least that's what WinStar Farm and trainer Eoin Harty are hoping. It could happen in Saturday's $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita, or WinStar and Harty could spend all of 2010 waiting for a breakthrough performance. Just like they did in 2009.

"Mr. Hot Stuff can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it," Harty said. "His last race at Hollywood Park was a good race and he finished fourth. He galloped out 20 lengths in front. It's the story of his life."

A winner of 1 of 14 starts - a maiden race here last February - Mr. Hot Stuff was beaten three-quarters of a length in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29. The Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes over 1 1/16 miles will be his first start in a stakes since an eighth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes last June. Also last spring, Mr. Hot Stuff was third in the Santa Anita Derby and 15th at 28-1 in the Kentucky Derby.

"He's a sound horse," Harty said. "I think it's in his mind. I think he needs a special kind of ride."

Finding a rider who matches Mr. Hot Stuff has been an impossible chore. For the San Fernando, the colt will be ridden by Joe Talamo, his eighth different rider in as many races.

Harty planned to spend the days leading up to the race coaching Talamo on tactics.

"I'll debrief him for four days," Harty said of Talamo. "We'll have a skull session."

Mr. Hot Stuff is part of a field of eight in the San Fernando, which includes six stakes winners - Gallant Son, Mythical Power, Papa Clem, Quindici Man, Rendezvous, and Smart Bid. Viscount is the other runner. The race is a prep to the $200,000 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles here on Feb. 6.

Misremembered, a two-time stakes winner in 2009, was not entered in the San Fernando and will be pointed for the Strub Stakes, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Papa Clem is attempting to rebound after a lengthy losing streak. The winner of the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby last April, Papa Clem is winless in his last six starts, including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here on Dec. 26.

Trainer Gary Stute said he hopes Papa Clem can run well enough to justify a start in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 or the Dubai World Cup on March 27.

Day's card looks to be indicator

The San Fernando is one of three graded stakes on Saturday's program. The others are the Grade 3 San Rafael for 3-year-olds and the Grade 2 Santa Ynez for 3-year-old fillies.

The $100,000 San Rafael Stakes over a mile is the year's first 3-year-old stakes in Southern California. It drew just five horses, none a stakes winner.

The favorite will be Conveyance, who was recently acquired by Zabeel Racing Corp. of Dubai and will remain with trainer Bob Baffert.

Trainer John Sadler has two starters - Domonation, who was second to Tiz Chrome in the Stuka Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19, and Via Verde, who was fourth in the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf here on Dec. 28.

For Domonation, the Grade 3 San Rafael will be a distance test. A colt by Maria's Mon, he has made four starts over six and 6 1/2 furlongs.

"We need to find out if he can route," Sadler said. "He's run four times sprinting and closed well every time. He got beat by a better horse last time. We think he'll route, and you want to find out at this time of year."

The $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs is a prep for the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile on Feb. 6.

The undefeated She's Funomenal, who won a maiden race and the Ifyoucouldseemenow Stakes at the Hollywood Park fall meeting, makes her graded stakes debut in the Santa Ynez.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, She's Funomenal will face five rivals, including Amen Hallelujah, who was third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October and the Hollywood Starlet Stakes last month, and Franny Freud, a winner of three stakes in New York and Ontario last year.

Well Armed aimed at summer return

Well Armed, the winner of the 2009 Dubai World Cup, is nearing a return to racetrack training, said his trainer, Harty.

Unraced since a bone chip was diagnosed in an ankle last summer, Well Armed is expected back at Santa Anita this month with a summertime return to racing likely. Owned by WinStar Farm, Well Armed has made one start since the Dubai World Cup, finishing last in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.