By Ed Golden —-
• BAFFERT: FASTEST HORSE WON RUN FOR THE ROSES
• STEVENS WATCHES THE DERBY FROM JOCKS’ ROOM
• MULLINS, SUTHERLAND HAVE REASON TO CELEBRATE
• BATTLE OF MIDWAY DUE AT SANTA ANITA ON TUESDAY
NO DERBY, BUT ABEL TASMAN BOOSTS BAFFERT WITH OAKS WIN
Bob Baffert might have been back at Santa Anita Sunday morning celebrating his fifth Kentucky Derby victory, had not his undefeated Mastery been sidelined with an injury and missed Saturday’s 143rd Run for the Roses.
As it was, since he ran no horse this year, the most recognizable trainer on the planet didn’t play second fiddle among the hoi polloi at Churchill Downs, gaining the spotlight Friday by sending out Abel Tasman to a 9-1 upset in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks.
Back at his home base on an unseasonably brisk May morning, Baffert was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as he vamped with peers at Clockers’ Corner in advance of sending out 3-5 morning line favorite Vale Dori in today’s Adoration Stakes.
“Always Dreaming was the horse I thought would win,” said Baffert, himself a four-time Derby winner. “He was the fastest horse with brilliant speed and he got the trip. There were no surprises, although Classic Empire had a brutal start. He could have made a race of it maybe.”
Always Dreaming, a tepid 9-2 favorite, won by 2 ¾ lengths, giving Todd Pletcher his second Kentucky Derby victory. Classic Empire, according to Daily Racing Form’s chart footnotes, “bobbled soon after the break then was hammered off stride between rivals when forced down . . . swung five wide for the drive, had his run briefly interrupted when bumped and carried out mid stretch, regrouped and churned on.” He ran fourth, beaten nearly nine lengths.
Abel Tasman, meanwhile, gave Baffert something to smile about.
“Training her at Churchill for the race, I was scared to death of the track because it was speed-biased and there was mud on the rail,” Baffert said. “I just told Mike (Smith) to ride his own mare and don’t chase them. Going into it I knew I was up against it, but she came through.
“She looked great during training there, but nobody talked about her. It was nice to go in under the radar, so I wasn’t nervous. While we were there we went to see (American) Pharaoh Game On Dude, Silver Charm and War Emblem
“We really enjoyed it. (Wife) Jill and (son) Bode really had a great time.”
As for Abel Tasman’s next race, Baffert preferred to enjoy the moment. “I haven’t looked beyond the Oaks,” he said. “I just wanted to get through that race, but she’ll probably be shipping all over the country.”
DERBY WAS NO GO FOR ROYAL MO AND STEVENS
Gary Stevens, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, was on the outside looking in this year when his mount, Royal Mo, did not draw into the starting field of 20 due to a lack of qualifying points. He was one of two horses on the also eligible list, sitting at 21.
“I was in the jocks’ room (at Churchill Downs) watching the race,” Stevens said Sunday morning, back at Santa Anita. “I rode two races earlier. The winner (Always Dreaming) is a good horse, as is the second-place horse (Lookin At Lee). The winner ran the same race he ran in the Florida Derby, and he reminds me a lot of (2011 Kentucky Derby winner) Animal Kingdom, the way he accelerates.
“You don’t see horses visually drop down and accelerate like he did in the Florida Derby and like he did at the eighth pole yesterday. When Johnny (Velazquez) reached back and tagged him a few times, it was over with.”
NO. 1,000 FOR SUTHERLAND SIGNIFICANT FOR MULLINS, TOO
Jeff Mullins and Chantal Sutherland had cause to celebrate after Saturday’s third race, Mullins sending out Giro Candillo for new client Donald Valpredo and Sutherland guiding the son of Twirling Candy bred in California by Valpredo to a half-length victory, marking career win No. 1,000 for the 40-year-old Winnipeg, Ontario native.
“It was pretty significant, winning first out for Don,” Mullins said. “I was happy
for Chantal, too. We’re two for two together at the meet, so that’s great.”
Added Sutherland’s agent, Tommy Ball: “A thousand wins is a good milestone for any jockey. How many female riders have won 1,000 races, or for that matter, how many jockeys? Anyway you look at it, it’s pretty good.”
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita Derby runner-up Battle of Midway performed admirably finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, looking like he had every chance to win with a quarter mile to go, and will return to Santa Anita shortly. “I hear that he came out of the race really good,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains the son of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Smart Strike. “He’ll fly back here Tuesday and after that we’ll decide what’s next. He always tries. We’re very excited and very proud of him.” . . .Trainer Art Sherman and owner Kaleem Shah celebrated their first winner together after Besides The Point rolled to a six-length triumph in Saturday’s fourth race under Joe Talamo at a $22.40 payoff. “It was nice to win one for Kaleem,” Sherman said. “We hope to have quite a few more.” Sherman later enjoyed watching the Kentucky Derby, “especially since I picked the winner. Tactical speed wins races like that most of the time,” said Sherman, who saddled two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome to capture the 2014 edition . . . Congratulations to Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen, Ron Gierkink and Craig Milkowski on picking Always Dreaming to win the Kentucky Derby. None of the 20 selectors had 33-1 runner-up Lookin AtLee picked higher than fourth . . . Former jockey and current trainer Kenny Black points out that Above Perfection, dam of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, was raised and broken at Old English Rancho in Sanger, California, before being sold to former trainer Darrell Vienna and his then-owner, David Milch . . . There is a Pick Six carryover into Sunday of $53,424.
SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
(Current Through Saturday, May 6)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 53 13 7 9 25% 55% $573,735
Joseph Talamo 63 11 10 9 17% 48% $440,749
Flavien Prat 40 10 6 9 25% 63% $389,630
Martin Pedroza 44 8 4 4 18% 36% $239,095
Tyler Baze 46 7 6 10 15% 50% $339,258
Stewart Elliott 50 7 4 7 14% 36% $259,131
Edwin Maldonado 39 6 6 7 15% 49% $302,815
Tiago Pereira 43 5 6 6 12% 40% $234,845
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 37 5 5 8 14% 49% $294,553
Santiago Gonzalez 45 4 8 4 9% 36% $190,600
Agapito Delgadillo 20 4 2 3 20% 45% $75,700
Kent Desormeaux 17 3 4 4 18% 65% $194,203
Corey Nakatani 26 3 4 4 12% 42% $222,114
Evin Roman 19 3 3 4 16% 53% $82,368
Martin Garcia 25 3 2 3 12% 32% $255,725
Gary Stevens 13 3 2 2 23% 54% $160,825
Austin Solis 14 3 0 1 21% 29% $63,695
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 38 11 6 3 29% 53% $492,915
Richard Baltas 30 9 3 5 30% 57% $332,779
Peter Miller 29 7 5 5 24% 59% $287,720
Bob Baffert 15 6 1 2 40% 60% $346,755
Jerry Hollendorfer 26 5 3 5 19% 50% $221,690
Doug O’Neill 27 4 7 4 15% 56% $199,168
Jack Carava 16 4 1 2 25% 44% $82,100
Steven Miyadi 18 3 3 7 17% 72% $102,249
John Brocklebank 11 3 2 1 27% 55% $84,105
Simon Callaghan 11 3 1 2 27% 55% $126,620
William Morey 6 3 1 1 50% 83% $92,884
Eddie Truman 5 3 0 1 60% 80% $76,320
Jeff Mullins 6 3 0 1 50% 67% $88,410
Santa Anita Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is North America’s premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.