01/15/2014 3:11PM

Santa Anita: Dice Flavor due for boxcar-odds win in Strub

Benoit & Associates
Dice Flavor has won stakes at 9-1 and 8-1, and should be a big price again on Saturday in the Strub.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Dice Flavor is due for an upset win in Saturday’s $200,000 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita.

Last February, Dice Flavor won his stakes debut as a 9-1 shot in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on the synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields. He lost his next three races, including an eighth in the $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby in Dubai, before rebounding with a thrilling win as an 8-1 shot in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap on turf at Del Mar in August.

Dice Flavor lost his final three starts of 2013, including a fast-closing fifth in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Dice Flavor was beaten only three-quarters of a length, leaving trainer Paddy Gallagher willing to try the Strub and hopeful that the 4-year-old can end the losing streak.

[Strub Stakes: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

The Grade 2 Strub Stakes is run over 1 1/16 miles on dirt, and it will be the first time Dice Flavor has run on the surface. In 12 starts, Dice Flavor has won 2 of 8 races on turf and 1 of 4 races on synthetic tracks.

“It will probably be a tough spot, but you’ve got to give it a shot and see if it works,” Gallagher said on Wednesday. “He is coming back a bit soon.”

wned by Oda Racing Stable and U.S. Equine, Dice Flavor is part of a projected field of eight in the Strub. Gallagher said he is attracted to the race because it is limited to 4-year-olds.

The Strub, previously run in early February over 1 1/8 miles, will not include Flashback, who was fourth as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

Trainer Bob Baffert said that he was not encouraged by Flashback’s six-furlong workout in 1:14.40 on Jan. 12.
“His energy level wasn’t that good,” Baffert said. “I want to give him more time between races.”

Baffert starts Malibu winner Shakin It Up, who has yet to win beyond seven furlongs, and Govenor Charlie, unraced since finishing eighth in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico last May.

The Strub field is expected to include two leading prospects trained by Jerry Hollendorfer: Hear the Ghost, who was second in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes against older horses at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14, and Zeewat, who was third in the Malibu. Zeewat worked a half-mile in 47.60 seconds on Wednesday.

Other candidates are Heir of Storm, Rookie Sensation, and Say Ow.