By BETH HARRIS
AP Racing Writer
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Bob Baffert is holding a pair of aces less than two months before the Kentucky Derby.
The Hall of Fame trainer boasts two top 3-year-olds in his barn, and Dortmund stamped himself as a major threat for the first Saturday in May with a 1 1/4-length victory in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.
The strapping chestnut colt improved to 5-0 and gave Baffert a record fifth San Felipe win Saturday.
“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” Baffert said about the winning streak. “We’re just worried about keeping him healthy.”
And don’t try to pin Baffert down about which of his colts he favors: Dortmund or American Pharoah.
“It’s like asking which kid I love more,” he said. “They’re two different horses.”
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Dortmund led all the way in running 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.65 and paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20 as the 4-5 favorite in a field of 10.
“It looks easy because he’s such a good horse,” Garcia said. “I’m always confident because I know how good he is.”
Dortmund’s pedigree suggests he could handle the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby distance. His father, Big Brown, won the 2008 Derby and Preakness before failing to finish in the Belmont, dashing his hopes of sweeping the Triple Crown.
“I don’t think there will be any difference for him when we add more distance,” Garcia said. “He can go any distance. It won’t be a problem for him.”
Dortmund earned 50 points under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby on May 2. He has a total of 70 points, five behind leader El Kabeir, who won the Gotham Stakes on Saturday. American Pharoah has 10 points, good for 17th on the Derby leaderboard.
Prospect Park returned $3.80 and $3.40, and jockey Kent Desormeaux wasn’t willing to give an inch. Prospect Park could meet Dortmund next in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
“They got the battle,” he said. “We’ll win the war.”
Bolo was another half-length back in third and paid $4.60 to show.
“Dortmund is a great horse, no doubt about it,” said Victor Espinoza, who rode Bolo. “Just for a moment there at the top of the stretch I thought we could beat him, but he’s too tough.”
Ocho Ocho Ocho lost for the first time after winning his first three races, including the $1 million Delta Jackpot. He finished eighth.
Baffert learned more Dortmund in his previous start, the Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7, when the colt looked beaten with a furlong to go. Instead, he rallied again along the rail and won by a head over Firing Line.
“He’s starting to fill out, get stronger,” said Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner. “He’s so big the worst thing they can do is take him back and get him behind a wall of horses. He was doing it pretty easily.”
Baffert’s other entry, Lord Nelson, was fourth. The Gomper was fifth, followed by Pulmarack, Pain and Misery, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Sir Samson and Kenjisstorm.