01/30/2013 5:25PM

Santa Anita: Stephanoatsee shipping in for Strub

Barbara D. Livingston
Stephanoatsee will be part of a field of seven in Saturday's Grade 2 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds.

The winter campaign of the 4-year-old Stephanoatsee has been geared toward Saturday’s $200,000 Strub Stakes.

After placing in stakes at Aqueduct in January and November, but missing most of 2012 because of a pastern injury, Stephanoatsee can win his first stakes in Saturday’s Grade 2 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles on the main track. The result of the race will dictate how trainer Graham Motion campaigns the ridgling, who has won 3 of 8 starts racing in New York and the mid-Atlantic circuit.

“I hope he fits,” he said. “It’s a long way to go if he doesn’t.”

The Grade 2 Strub Stakes has drawn a field of seven, including the first three finishers of the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 12 – Fed Biz, Tritap, and Guilt Trip.

Stephanoatsee has not started since finishing third to Called to Serve in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 17. Called to Serve returned to win the Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel on Dec. 31.

In the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby last September, Stephanoatsee was fourth behind Strub hopeful Handsome Mike in a performance that frustrated Motion.

“He was buried down on a deal rail and he was stuck the whole way,” Motion said. “It cost him part of the race.”

Owned by breeder My Meadowview Farm, Stephanoatsee has been part of Motion’s stable in south Florida this winter, based at Palm Meadows. Stephanoatsee was considered for the $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9 before a start in the Strub was selected.

“This seems like the more conservative race,” Motion said. “This is a stepping-stone.”

Saturday’s 10-race program also includes the $150,000 Arcadia Stakes over a mile on turf, which drew a strong field of 14. Silentio, who won the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf on Dec. 26, drew post 7. Strong Suit, a four-time stakes winner in England in 2010 and 2011, drew the outside post for his American debut.