01/16/2010 12:00AM

Papa Clem comes through


ARCADIA, Calif. - The focus was on Papa Clem at Santa Anita on Saturday, and the attention made trainer Gary Stute a little uncomfortable.

The colt was the 3-2 favorite in the at Santa Anita, only the second time in his career he was the public choice. When Papa Clem won the Grade 2 race for 4-year-olds, just his third career win, it provided a sense of relief to Stute, who said he wasn't used to saddling the favorite.

"It's a lot more pressure," he said. "You better win."

Making his 10th consecutive appearance in a stakes, Papa Clem moved to the fore of California's 4-year-old male division with the win in the 1 1/16-mile race. Papa Clem will be pointed for the $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds here on Feb. 6. The San Fernando was the colt's first win since the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby last fall.

In the San Fernando, Papa Clem ($5) had an ideal trip under jockey Tyler Baze. Baze kept Papa Clem near the front, stalking Smart Bid through early fractions of 24.19 and 48.74 seconds. Baze guided Papa Clem closer to Smart Bid on the turn and they took the lead in early stretch. Papa Clem was vigorously ridden through the stretch to win by a half-length over Smart Bid, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.64. Smart Bid finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Rendezvous, who raced just behind the leaders throughout.

Papa Clem has won 3 of 13 starts and $1,121,190 for owner-breeder Bo Hirsch. Last year, Papa Clem was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and fourth behind Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in August. The San Fernando was Papa Clem's second start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. He was third in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

"He was starting to get the reputation as a horse that didn't win," Stute said.

Saturday's race put an end to that. Stute said earlier in the week that he was entertaining a trip to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup on March 27, but he was not thinking that far ahead on Saturday. "I'm hoping to get through the next one," he said.

Papa Clem is likely to be favored in the Strub, a role that will feel more comfortable to Stute after Saturday's success.