ON TRACK CROWD OF 38,647 WITNESS 78TH RUNNING OF WEST COAST’S PREMIER DERBY PREP
By BETH HARRIS
AP Racing Writer
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Dortmund towers over his competition, standing the equivalent of 5-feet, 8-inches tall. He’s pretty imposing on paper, too.
The chestnut colt romped to a 4 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, keeping him unbeaten at 6-0 heading into next month’s Kentucky Derby.
“It’s good to see this horse just really developing the way he has from his first start,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “I just love the way he ran.”
Dortmund led all the way in running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.73 under Martin Garcia and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the six-horse field. Baffert earned his record seventh victory in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby.
“When we bought him he looked like a really good horse, but he was just a big horse and sometimes they don’t turn out,” Baffert said. “He’s a big, long-legged horse. When he made the lead and when he gets by himself like that, he’ll idle on you a little bit, so he had to keep going.”
Dortmund bobbled slightly coming out of the starting gate in the No. 1 post _ a spot Baffert detests _ but he quickly went to the lead and kicked clear leaving the final turn.
“Even though he’s won all his races, he’s still learning,” said Garcia, who won his first Santa Anita Derby. “He can play around a bit when someone comes to him. When I ask him to go, he becom s push-button and he just takes off.”
Dortmund joins his sire Big Brown (3-0) and Barbaro (5-0) in taking an undefeated record into the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown won the Derby in 2008 and Barbaro did so in 2006.
At 17 hands, Dortmund stands taller than the average thoroughbred, which can measure anywhere from 15 to 17 hands, with a hand being equal to 4 inches.
One Lucky Dane, also trained by Baffert, returned $4.80 and $2.80, while Bolo was another 2¼ lengths back in third and paid $3 to show. Prospect Park was fourth, followed by Cross the Line and Bad Read Sanchez.
Dortmund earned 100 points for the victory, moving him into second place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that determines the 20-horse field for the May 2 race.
One Lucky Dane was running just 16 days after returning from a 4½-month layoff with a victory on March 19. He moved into 16th on the Derby leaderboard and will head to Churchill Downs, too.
“He qualified in Bob Baffert’s eyes,” the trainer said. “I don’t need 40 points.”
Baffert’s other top horse, American Pharoah, will run in next weekend’s Arkansas Derby, giving the white-haired trainer a third shot at winning the Kentucky Derby for the fourth time in his career.
“I can’t believe I’m so fortunate to be in this position with two outstanding 3-year-olds,” he said.
In other stakes:
_ Stellar Wind rallied to win the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks by 5 1/4 lengths under Victor Espinoza. The 6-5 favorite ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.26 and paid $4.40 to win. Trainer John Sadler said he plans to run the filly in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1.
_ Even-money favorite Gimme Da Lute won the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths for Baffert. Ridden by Garcia, the 3-year-old colt ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.64 and paid $4 to win.
_ Spirit of Xian won the $151,750 Providencia Stakes by a neck under Joe Talamo. The filly ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.10 and paid $35.60 to win.