Entered in both the San Carlos Handicap and San Fernando Stakes this weekend, Raise A Stanza wound up in the right one.
Thought by many to be at his best as a late-running sprinter, the 4-year-old colt by Raise A Man came flying Saturday and overhauled favored Oraibi to win the $109,500 San Carlos before 25,214 at Santa Anita.
Enjoying the rain and slop and helped by a :44 half-mile, the 8-1 shot defeated Oraibi by three-quarters of a length while covering the seven furlongs in 1:21 3/5.
Fourth in the opening-day Malibu, Raise A Stanza had already shown an affinity for the poor track.
"He won on a hard, sloppy track at Hollywood when he was 2," trainer Jay Robbins said. "He handled it then and he handled it great today.
"We trained him for this race and shortened him up. But Flying Continental (who is entered in the San Fernando) came up with an infection Thursday and was 100-1 to make it in time (today).
"If it didn't look like Flying Continental was going to be ready, we were going to scratch Raise A Stanza today and run him in the San Fernando. He might have won tomorrow, but now it looks like the other one will make it. I hope it's another lousy day."
Raise A Stanza provided Russell Baze with his second stakes victory of the meeting. Last Sunday, he and Invited Guest came from far back to post a surprise in the San Gorgonio.
"Jay said he didn't like dirt in his face, but he loves mud," Baze said. "Last time, he had his head up in the air. This time, he just put his head down and ran right into the stuff."
Fourth early on, Oraibi, the 2-1 choice, drew clear on the backstretch after the inside opened up, and was three lengths better than Tanker Port at the wire.
"I wanted to make sure I didn't get trapped," Laffit Pincay said. "Then, he opened up on his own. He switched leads good in the stretch and I thought he would hang on. But he pinned his ears at the sixteenth pole."
Olympic Prospect, who would have been the favorite, was scratched when the rains came.
"He doesn't like the track when it 's got water on it," trainer John Sadler said. "This was an optional race for him anyway. He had three tough races in a short period of time."
For the second time in eight days, Eddie Delahoussaye will meet with the stewards this morning to discuss a disqualification.
After Excellent Lady was disqualified in the third race Jan. 5, Delahoussaye was absolved of blame by Santa Anita stewards Pete Pedersen, Tom Ward and Hubert Jones and escaped a five-day suspension.
In the third race Saturday, Delahoussaye was disqualified aboard Field Of View for bothering McGruff in the final sixteenth. To many observers, it appeared The Maheras Case, who finished third in the $25,000 claimer, came out and was more responsible for McGruff's problems.
"I know I came in, don't get me wrong," Delahoussaye said. "If I'm not mistaken, I grabbed him and pulled him right off the other horse and rode him out.
"I did make contact (with McGruff), but I don't think it's all my fault, either. I'm not denying the horse in the middle didn't get bothered, but I attribute the trouble more to the inside horse than my horse.
"I hope I don't get days for this. If I do, the other guy (Pat Valenzuela, who rode The Maheras Case) should also."
Seven 4-year-old fillies were entered in Monday's $108,900 El Encino Stakes Saturday morning, but all the attention in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race will be on Gorgeous and Akinemod.
Idle since finishing second to Bayakoa in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Gorgeous has worked well for her return despite the less than flashy clockings. A winner of five of eight lifetime, the Slew O'Gold filly is widely viewed as the class of her division.
Open Mind won the Eclipse Award as the nation's best 3-year-old filly--deservedly so--but Gorgeous was the better horse at the end of 1989.
The bad weather could delay her seasonal debut, but Delahoussaye is hopeful she'll be a participant Monday.
"She looks great and she's training well," he said. "I'd sure like to see her run."
After rattling off five consecutive sprint victories, including wins in the Cascapedia and La Brea Breeders' Cup Stakes, Akinemod will try two turns for the first time in the El Encino, the middle leg of the La Canada series.
Rider Gary Stevens thought the daughter of Time To Explode would handle extra distance after the La Brea and he's also fairly confident she'll take to the mud.
"I think she'll run on broken glass if she needs to," Stevens said. "Whether or not they'll run on an off track is sure hard to predict. This horse I rode today (Candi's Gold, who finished seventh in his comeback in the San Carlos) always handled it before, but today he acted like a fish out of water.
"Akinemod's on top of her game. I'd just as soon not run against Gorgeous, but if she's able to beat her, then she's unbelievable. I think Akinemod's a top filly and (trainer) Jerry's (Fanning) trying to keep from getting too excited."
Others in the lineup include Fantastic Look, who won the Fantasy last spring at Oaklawn Park and most recently was second to Akinemod in the La Brea, Reluctant Guest, Kelly, idle since finishing fourth in the Del Mar Oaks, Affirmed Classic and Luthier's Launch.
Horse Racing Notes
Veteran Midwestern-based jockey John Lively has been chosen the winner of the 1990 George Woolf Award. Voted on by members of the Jockeys' Guild, Lively, 46, is the 41st recipient of the award and he will be presented it in ceremonies at Santa Anita Feb. 17. . . . Variety Road came from far back to edge He's A Saros and Avenging Force in the William P. Kyne Handicap, which was simulcast locally from Bay Meadows.