BULLDOGGER ADDS BLINKERS, SCORES IMPRESSIVELY IN ALLOWANCE COMEBACK

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2011) – Trainer Bob Baffert’s Bulldogger, idle since fading to fifth when favored in the Jimmy V. Stakes at Churchill Downs last Nov. 5, made a triumphant return in Santa Anita’s $60,062 allowance feature at six furlongs on Thursday.

Baffert removed the blinkers that the son of Dixie Union had worn in his first five starts, and the colt owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt responded with a 1 ¼- length victory while coming from off the pace for the first time in his career.

Earnhardt is a prominent Arizona-based auto dealer whose signature sales pitch, “No Bull” adorns billboards throughout the Grand Canyon State.

With leading rider Rafael Bejarano aboard, Bulldogger tracked pace-setter Streakin’ Mohican through a half-mile in 44.25 before overhauling the leader in deep stretch to win under a hand ride in 1:08.62.

Streakin’ Mohican, claimed for $40,000 by trainer Doug O’Neill in his previous start, gamely held on for second under Corey Nakatani, one-half length ahead of hard-charging Uh Oh Bango. The latter, ridden by Joe Talamo, was making his first start since fracturing a cannon bone following a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Arkansas Derby last April.

As the even-money favorite in a field of five, Bulldogger paid $4, $2.40 and $2.10. Streakin’ Mohican returned $2.80 and $2.20. The show price on Uh Oh Bango was $2.40.

After winning 2 of his first 3 starts by a combined 11 ¼ lengths while sprinting, Bulldogger was bet down to 4-1 in the Grade I Kings Bishop Stakes at Saratoga last August. After pressing the early pace, he faded to sixth. He set the pace in the Jimmy V. before giving way.

Bulldogger appeared to relax well without the blinkers. One left-handed crack of the whip by Bejarano in midstretch launched the closing bid that sent the $300,000 sales purchase to his third win in six starts. The winning purse of $35,400 boosted his career earnings to $113,438.

Racing continues on Friday at Santa Anita with an eight-race program that begins at 1 p.m. Santa Anita will race through Monday during the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend.

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