Updated on 09/17/2011 9:42AM

Sticking with their own age


ARCADIA, Calif. - There are two distinct paths to the Santa Anita Handicap, and they converge on March 1.

Older horses run in races such as the San Pasqual Handicap, which Congaree won last weekend, and the San Antonio Handicap. Four-year-olds, though, can compete against their own age group in a pair of two-turn races this meet before being forced to take on their elders.

The first of those races is Saturday's $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Handicap, at 1 1/16 miles. It is the second leg of the three-race Strub Series, which concludes with the $400,000 Strub Stakes on Feb. 1. The first leg was the seven-furlong Malibu on Dec. 26, but no one from that race, including the victorious Debonair Joe, will run in the San Fernando.

Instead, the San Fernando will be made up primarily of lightly raced, late-developing runners, such as Rushin' to Altar and Tizbud - both of whom will be making their stakes debuts - or grass runners, like Century City and Mananan McLir, who are seeking to make a successful switch of surfaces.

Both Century City and Mananan McLir had their final workouts on Wednesday morning for the San Fernando. Century City, who trains at Hollywood Park, covered three furlongs in 36 seconds for trainer Beau Greely, while here at Santa Anita, Mananan McLir, who is trained by Wally Dollase, was timed in 48.40 seconds for a half-mile.

The field for the San Fernando is expected to be Century City (Laffit Pincay Jr. the rider), Mananan McLir (Patrick Valenzuela), Ocean Sound (Martin Pedroza), Pass Rush (Corey Nakatani), Rushin' to Altar (Alex Solis), Tizbud (Victor Espinoza), and Tracemark (Kent Desormeaux).

Pass Rush, who is based in Kentucky with trainer Patrick Byrne, was second to Continental Red in the Great State Challenge Classic in his last start.

Castle Gandolfo, who was fifth in the Malibu Stakes, is passing the race because of a minor skin rash, but he is expected to make the Strub. Sunday Break, 11th and last in the Malibu, also is pointing for the Strub.

Olmodovar, who comes off powerful allowance victories at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, is being forced to skip the San Fernando because of a minor foot bruise, trainer Richard Mandella said Wednesday morning.

Key race buoys McAnally

Rushin' to Altar won a second-level allowance race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11, defeating Labamta Babe by a nose. When Labamta Babe, trained by Bobby Frankel, came back to win last weekend at Santa Anita, that underscored the quality of that race, all of which gives trainer Ron McAnally confidence as he sends Rushin' to Altar into the San Fernando.

"When he made the lead, he pricked his ears and pulled himself up," McAnally said Wednesday morning. "He lagged back in last. He was covered in mud. Then he moved around the horses on the turn like they weren't there. As a rule, horses don't close like that at Hollywood. And then Bobby's horse came back and won the other day."

McAnally said he would not add blinkers to Rushin' to Altar's equipment, believing the colt will, through experience, learn not to pull himself up when he hits the front. Solis, who rides him Saturday, has been on Rushin' to Altar for four of his six prior starts.

"Alex knows him a little better now," McAnally said.

Alozaina works for San Gorgonio

McAnally also will run Alozaina in Saturday's co-feature, the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap for older female grass runners.

Alozaina most recently finished fourth, though beaten just a half-length, in the Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21.

"She was getting through on the rail, but she kind of got intimidated," McAnally said.

Alozaina worked five furlongs on the turf Wednesday morning in 1:01.80. Orange cones, known as dogs, were set up to protect the inside of the turf course. David Flores, who will ride Alozaina in the race, was aboard for the work.

Another San Gorgonio runner, Magic Mission, breezed a half-mile on turf in 48 seconds for trainer Neil Drysdale. Magic Mission broke off a length behind Java, a recent maiden winner, and pulled even with Java by the time the drill was over. Magic Mission was third, behind Dress to Thrill and Golden Apples, in last month's Matriarch Stakes.

The San Gorgonio field is expected to be Alozaina (Flores), Crazy Ensign (Pincay), Double Cat (Mike Smith), Magic Mission (Espinoza), Megahertz (Solis), Miss Gazon (Julie Krone), and Tates Creek (Valenzuela).

Crazy Ensign blew out three furlongs on the main track in 36.20 seconds Wednesday.

* The field for Sunday's $100,000 San Miguel Stakes, for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, is expected to be Bossanova (Solis), Echeverria (Flores), Jimmy O. (Espinoza), Omega Code (Pedroza), and Only the Best (Valenzuela). Jimmy O. worked three furlongs in 36.40 seconds on Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park.

* Johar, tuning up for the San Marcos Handicap on Jan. 20, worked a mile on turf in 1:42.60.