Updated on 09/16/2011 7:44AM

Sumja believes he has a live Strub longshot

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Benoit & Associates
An anticipated fast pace would help Mizzen Mast in Saturday's Strub.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Despite an admirable second-place finish in the Malibu Stakes and a flawless training pattern since, Giant Gentleman enters the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Saturday virtually forgotten. "He's going to be 15-1," trainer Brent Sumja said, "but I'm confident he'll finish in the top three."

Alex Solis has picked up the mount on Giant Gentleman from Garrett Gomez, who will ride San Fernando Stakes winner Western Pride. In the Malibu, Giant Gentleman put away all the speed, only to be nailed late by Mizzen Mast, the likely Strub favorite. Sumja hopes for a different scenario Saturday, when Giant Gentleman stretches from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. "Mizzen Mast was the best horse [in the Malibu], but if we don't get pushed by a 50-1 shot, who knows?," Sumja said.

Giant Gentleman will have company in the Strub. With Western Pride and Orientate also in the field, a hot pace should unfold that would benefit closers such as Mizzen Mast, Fancy As, and Momentum. Western Pride and Orientate finished one-two in the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando after setting blistering fractions of 44.86 seconds and 1:08.80. Fancy As picked up the pieces for third, and his trainer, Bob Baffert, hopes for a more equitable racing surface Saturday.

"The track's going to have a lot to do with it, it can't be [speed conducive] like it was last time, or he has no chance," Baffert said.

Momentum worked five furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 1:01.60 and trainer Craig Dollase expects a return to form after a disappointing fifth as the even-money favorite in the San Fernando. "I'd missed some time with him, he only had two works going into that race, but he's on 'go' now," Dollase said. "This time, we might even get a little price."

Before the San Fernando, Momentum won the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park.

A large field is taking shape for the Strub. In order of probable odds, likely starters include Mizzen Mast, Western Pride, Momentum, Orientate, Fancy As, I Love Silver, Giant Gentleman, Palmeiro, Pie N Burger, and Scorpion. Hollywood Derby winner Denon, nominated as a backup to Mizzen Mast, will wait for the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap Feb. 16.

Popular breezes for San Vicente

First post for Saturday's Strub card is noon Pacific, and it includes two other stakes. Came Home faces Popular and Werblin in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. California-bred fillies and mares race a mile on turf in the $125,000 Pro Or Con Handicap.

San Miguel Stakes winner Popular worked five furlongs Tuesday in 1:03, breezing, over a "good" track that produced slow work times.

Others expected for the San Vicente include Jack's Silver, a maiden; Line Rider, a European import trained by Tim Pinfield; and Mighty David. Menacing Dennis, who earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure winning his only start July at Monmouth by more than 10 lengths, is one work short and will miss the race, according to trainer Jeff Bonde. Menacing Dennis is recovering from bucked shins.

The two topweights for the Pro Or Con will pass. Favorite Funtime (120) raced Sunday; Jeweled Pirate (119) will wait for $100,000 Irish O'Brien Stakes on March 17. That leaves Super Tuesday as the 117-pound highweight in a relatively weak race.

Lido Palace will carry 121

It is Chile vs. Brazil in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap on Sunday. Lido Palace, the Chilean import who won the Grade 1 Whitney and Woodward last year for Bobby Frankel, was assigned 121-pound high weight for the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio. Richard Mandella seeks an upset with Brazilian imports Straight Flush (115 pounds) and Redattore (116).

Straight Flush returned from a 16-month layoff to finish second in a classified turf allowance on Dec. 30, and Mandella is keen to discover if his turf form translates to the main track. A Group 1 winner in Brazil, Straight Flush has raced once on dirt, beating maidens by 10 lengths.

"It might not mean a lot; you don't know if those were just bad maidens," Mandella said. "But he's really good right now, and I'm hoping he can dirt."

The same applies to Redattore, winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap last summer at Del Mar. He emerged from a disappointing effort in the Oak Tree Mile with a foot abscess, and will be racing Saturday for the first time in four months. Mandella was asked about his fitness first start back.

"He's ready, he's very ready," Mandella said, cautioning that both horses are unknowns on dirt. "It's a trial. They'll either like it and go on to bigger and better things like the Big Cap or Dubai, or I'll find the best turf races for them."

Others expected for the San Antonio include Irisheyesareflying (117), Gander (114), and Bosque Redondo (113).

First post on Super Bowl Sunday is 11 a.m. Pacific.

What's next for Squirtle Squirt?

Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Squirtle Squirt came out of his second-place finish in the Palos Verdes Handicap in good shape, but trainer Bobby Frankel will postpone a decision on his next start.

"I don't want to get caught up with running him too much early the year," Frankel said. "I don't know about Dubai. He's a tough horse to train. Soundness-wise he's fine, but he's tough, he's hard to handle."