01/15/2010 12:00AM

Papa Clem has shot to jump-start career

Barbara D. Livingston
Papa Clem, third in the Malibu last time out, is being considered for some heavyweight stakes in the months ahead. But first up is the San Fernando on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Since he beat maidens as a 2-year-old in the final week of 2008, Papa Clem has given owner Bo Hirsch and trainer Gary Stute ample reasons to be ambitious.

The colt has won more than $1 million, most of which came with a victory in the Arkansas Derby last April, and placed in four other stakes. When Papa Clem starts in Saturday's San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita, his 10th consecutive stakes appearance, thoughts of future grand races will be in the back of Stute's mind.

Races such as the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 and the Dubai World Cup on March 27 are being considered. The first priority, though, is winning the San Fernando, which is also a prep for the $200,000 Strub Stakes on Feb. 6.

"I would like to go to Dubai," Stute said. "I would need to win this race or the Strub to talk about it."

The Grade 2 San Fernando is worth $150,000, with just $75,000 of the purse from Santa Anita and $75,000 from the Breeders' Cup. All eight entrants are Breeders' Cup eligible.

There are three graded stakes on Saturday's nine-race program, which begins at 12:30 p.m. The $100,000 San Rafael Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile is the third race. The $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs is the fifth race.

Aside from Papa Clem, the San Fernando includes the stakes winners Gallant Son, Mythical Power, Quindici Man, Rendezvous, and Smart Bid. Mr. Hot Stuff and Viscount are the other starters.

The San Fernando, the day's seventh race, is the middle leg of the Strub series for 4-year-olds of 2010. In the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs on Dec. 26, the first leg, Papa Clem finished third at 10-1 in a field of 13. He was near the front throughout and faded in the final furlong to finish 2 3/4 lengths behind M One Rifle.

The Malibu was Papa Clem's first start since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on turf last fall. Papa Clem, who is by Smart Strike, benefited from the race, Stute said.

"I think he was a little short and he needed the race," Stute said of the Malibu. "You hate to not have them 100 percent fit."

Last spring and summer, Papa Clem raced against the best of his generation. He followed the Arkansas Derby win with a fourth in the Kentucky Derby and a sixth in the Preakness Stakes. During the summer, he was fourth in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational over a sloppy track at Monmouth Park, behind Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird, and Munnings.

"He's had some bad luck," Stute said. "I think he would have run second in the Haskell if it hadn't been muddy."

Rendezvous won the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby last September, but was unplaced in two turf stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting here in the fall, finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Championship against older horses and eighth in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Rendezvous has won 2 of 3 starts on synthetic tracks, but has not raced on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride.

"The way he trains on this track, you have to give it a shot," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant.

Mr. Hot Stuff, third in the 2009 Santa Anita Derby and 15th in the Kentucky Derby, is seeking his first stakes win in his 15th start. He will be ridden by jockey Joe Talamo, the eighth different jockey for the Tiznow colt in as many races.

Mythical Power won the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in Texas last May, but did not start again until the Malibu, finishing 10th.

"He just needed that race, and he wants to go long," trainer Bob Baffert said. "It usually takes a race or two to get going. I think he's better on dirt, but there is nowhere else to run him."



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