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DISBELIEVING BAFFERT GETS NOD WITH NEVER ON SANTA ANITA DERBY ENTRY DAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 31, 2010) – Some six hours after entering heavily favored Lookin At Lucky in Saturday’s Gr. I Santa Anita Derby, Bob Baffert took Wednesday’s Santa Anita feature with a horse named Never in a finish so close the trainer said just afterward that he would have been willing to “split” the purse and accept a dead heat.
But the photo in the one mile allowance event with a $49,664 purse revealed that Fog City Stable’s Never had nipped pacesetter and 13-10 favorite Good Measure by the closest of margins while running the distance in 1:35.76.
The 5-2 second choice ridden by Martin Garcia, Never rallied steadily on the far outside to get the better of a nose bob after Good Measure had led authoritatively for all but the last few strides under jockey Victor Espinoza.
“I thought we got beat,” Baffert said after the tote board revealed the result. “It must have been a pretty tight photo.”
Garcia, who would have had a closer view, held a different opinion. “It was close,” he said, “but I thought we won. My horse didn’t want to go by the other horse, but I kept pushing, and we finally got the job done.”
The first two hit the wire 2 ¼ lengths ahead of third place Kabob, with Joe Talamo aboard, in the field of seven.
For Never, the victory ended a four-race losing streak after the 4-year-old son of Vindication had broken his maiden going one mile in a $50,000 claimer at Santa Anita last Oct. 29.
He paid $7.80, $3.40 and $2.40. Favored Good Measure returned $2.80 and $2.40 while Kabob, at 16-1, paid $4.40 to show.
The winning purse of $28,800 increased the career earnings of Never to $61,120 from a record of 2-2-3 in 10 races.
Racing continues on Thursday at Santa Anita with an eight-race program that commences at 1 p.m.