Updated on 09/17/2011 11:34PM

Wild Fit may do better on the road

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Wild Fit's best races have come at Del Mar and Belmont - sandier tracks than at Santa Anita.

PHOENIX - They hadn't even reached the wire in last Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and you could hear the critics already: "Wild Fit is not a two-turn horse."

Certainly Wild Fit's third-place finish wasn't her best effort, but would it have mattered? Based on the way Balance ran, I'm not sure Wild Fit could have beaten her with a head start. Balance is a beast, and her handiness means she will almost always get first run on Wild Fit, whether it's one turn or 20.

Wild Fit's three two-turn losses, however, have something in common beyond the turns - they all came at Santa Anita. Maybe it's more the surface at Santa Anita than the number of turns. Consider that her best races have come at Del Mar and Belmont, main tracks considered sandier than what she would see at Santa Anita.

I'd love to see trainer Patrick Biancone take her back East and run on surfaces more closely related to what she saw at Del Mar and Belmont. Then, if she were to flatten out in the Ashland or Kentucky Oaks, I would be willing to concede the point - but not just yet.

Stute has Hall of Fame quality

I'm not much for campaigning for individual honors, but this injustice seems to have gone on long enough. How can Mel Stute not be in the Hall of Fame? The venerable trainer is one of three finalists again this year, along with well-deserving colleagues John Veitch and the late Bob Wheeler. Stute apparently has no expectations that the vote will be in his favor when results are announced May 30.

"I kind of doubt it," the 78-year-old Stute said when asked if his chances for election are better this year. "But I'm hoping, to be truthful. I shouldn't complain, but I think this might be the seventh time I've been nominated."

I can't think of any specific reason why Stute has been passed by, except that the former voting system made it so only one nominee could get in. Obviously, that method seems silly now - imagine if that were the way the voting was done for the basketball Hall of Fame and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came up the same year. One would have to be left out.

But I digress. Stute has campaigned such stars as Snow Chief, Very Subtle, Brave Raj, Telly's Pop, Score Quick, Double Discount, Buffythecenterfold, and Right Con, to name a few. And he did so on a national level, so he hasn't been merely a regional trainer.

Even his regional numbers would seem nearly sufficient on their own. At the start of the current Santa Anita meet, only Charlie Whittingham (869), Bobby Frankel (819), Ron McAnally (669), and Gary Jones (576) have more Santa Anita victories than Stute (524) - and all but Jones are all in the Hall of Fame.

Stute was also ahead of such Hall of Famers as Dick Mandella (485), D. Wayne Lukas (470), Laz Barrera (469), William Molter (349), Jack Van Berg (314), Neil Drysdale (251), W.J. "Buddy" Hirsch (249), and Mesh Tenney (225). Wheeler had a sensational career but was still well behind Stute in Santa Anita wins (300).

Stute deserves to be there, and he will certainly be getting my vote. I hope others fall in line as well.

Cause to Believe may be for real

Cause to Believe has many a handicapper wringing their hands. "What to do with this northern California beast?" they ask. "He hasn't beaten anything up there," etc., etc. Remember, though, many of the horses who do well in the Triple Crown had not proven much before the spring. War Emblem didn't really come onto the national scene until his huge Illinois Derby win, and even that was pooh-poohed as flukey. Charismatic, Funny Cide, Giacomo, and many others had shown talent, but you would be hard-pressed to say they went into the Kentucky Derby with glowing resumes. Cause to Believe seems cut of the same cloth, and he will get a chance to prove he can ship and go farther when he heads to the Illinois Derby next month.

Cause to Believe is versatile, and has shown that he can handle different tracks and that he can route. There's every reason to believe he can handle the Derby trip - his daddy, Maria's Mon, has already sired a Derby winner (Monarchos), who merely ran the second-fastest Derby ever. I know he was helped by an insane pace and an ultra-fast track, but it was still the second-fastest Derby ever.

And best of all, unlike so many of the top Derby hopefuls, Cause to Believe hasn't had one setback or even the hint of one. His schedule has gone perfectly.