Dortmund puts undefeated record on line in Santa Anita Derby
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Bob Baffert has two outstanding colts and another promising one in his barn a month before the Kentucky Derby.
The Hall of Fame trainer is keeping a lid on his excitement, knowing plenty can go wrong between now and the first Saturday in May. He's concentrating on ensuring star players Dortmund and American Pharoah, along with budding One Lucky Dane, stay healthy in the final weeks on the Derby trail.
Dortmund puts his undefeated record on the line against five rivals in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. The colt is the early 3-5 favorite for the 1 1/8-mile race that includes One Lucky Dane.
''Dortmund is coming into this race in perfect form,'' Baffert said this week. ''One Lucky Dane, he's starting to turn the corner a bit. When they start going 1 1/8 miles, the cream starts separating itself.''
American Pharoah is set to run in the Arkansas Derby on April 11.
''I can't believe how fortunate I am to have the big guns in my barn,'' said Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner.
The white-haired trainer hasn't been this loaded since 2001, when he brought Point Given and Congaree to Churchill Downs for the Derby.
Point Given was the wagering favorite, but wound up fifth, the only time in his career he finished worse than third. Congaree set a record for the fastest opening mile in Derby history and faded to third.
''I know the disappointment so I don't dare get too ahead of myself,'' Baffert said.
Dortmund, a chestnut son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, is 5-0, having been favored in all of his starts. He was the odds-on pick in his last four races for Baffert, who is seeking a record seventh Santa Anita Derby victory.
''Dortmund is tall, he's leggy. He's like the (7-foot) Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky,'' Baffert said. ''He can get up and go.''
Under Martin Garcia, Dortmund will break from the No. 1 post, a spot in the starting gate Baffert famously detests. However, three of his past winners came from that post. At 5-1 odds, One Lucky Dane and jockey Rafael Bejarano drew the spot next to him.
''The post positions aren't to my liking,'' the trainer said, ''but there's nothing I can do about it.''
One Lucky Dane is a son of 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, who was trained by Baffert. He's the lessor of Baffert's trio, but put himself in Kentucky Derby consideration winning a smaller race on March 19 after a 4 1/2-month layoff.
The top challenger to Baffert's duo is 4-1 shot Bolo, ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Bolo finished third in the San Felipe, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Dortmund. Carla Gaines will try to become the first female trainer to win since Jenine Sahadi in 2000.
''On paper, the race looks good for a horse with his style,'' Gaines said. ''He'll pretty much sit wherever you want him to in the race, so that's good.''
At 7-2, Prospect Park is the only other horse listed at single-digit odds. A son of Tapit, Prospect Park finished second to Dortmund in the San Felipe, beaten by 1 1/4 lengths.
''We're going to go in like we're 10-1, take nothing for granted,'' Baffert said. ''Go in there, stick to your game plan and hope it happens.''
The two longshots are 15-1 Cross the Line, trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, and 30-1 Bad Read Sanchez.
''He's looked good going over the track; it looks like he likes it,'' said Dan Ward, assistant to Hollendorfer. ''This is a big test, but he's prepared. We'll find out a lot Saturday.''
Bad Read Sanchez hasn't raced in eight months. He's trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, who teamed with I'll Have Another to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness three years ago.
All six starters will carry 122 pounds.