KETTLE RIVER TURNS BACK BAFFERT PAIR IN 3-YEAR-OLD FEATURE

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2010) – Darley Stable’s Kettle River -- a son of Congaree, winner of a half-dozen Grade I stakes for trainer Bob Baffert – ran down a pair of better-fancied Baffert 3-year-olds Wednesday when scoring an 11-1 upset victory in Santa Anita’s $48,800 allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles.

With Brice Blanc in the saddle, Kettle River closed strongly to cover the distance in 1:43.76 and secure a measure of Triple Crown consideration while holding off the late charge of trainer Kathy Walsh’s promising Hawaiian Springs by three-quarters of a length.

Hall of Famer Baffert’s The Program, the 13-10 favorite who had come within 1 ½ lengths of stablemate and leading Triple Crown candidate Lookin At Lucky when a game fourth in last month’s Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park, finished third, a nose behind Hawaiian Springs following a wide journey.

It was another 1 ½ lengths back to 5-2 second choice Quiet Invader, the second Baffert entrant who had led the field into the stretch with moderate fractions under Martin Garcia.

In scoring his second victory in three starts, Kettle River paid $23.40, $11 and $4.20. Hawaiian Springs, with Joe Talamo aboard, paid $5.20 and $3. The show price on The Program, ridden by Garrett Gomez, was $2.40.

Trained by one-time Baffert assistant Eoin Harty, Kettle River was the fifth choice in a field of seven. The winning purse of $28,800 lifted the earnings of the colt, bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, to $52,000.

Kettle River’s three starts have been well spaced. He was no threat when sixth in his racing debut over a sloppy track at Saratoga in August. He returned nearly three months later to break his maiden over 1 1/16 miles on the Hollywood Park turf course with Blanc aboard at odds of 9-1 on Nov. 15.

Santa Anita racing continues on Thursday with an eight-race program that gets underway at 1 p.m.

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