The pressure is off for Bob Baffert, or so it would seem.

He accomplished his major objective last Saturday, winning the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby with American Pharoah and finishing third with Dortmund. Next up: Saturday’s second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, a race Baffert has won five times, with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002) and Lookin At Lucky (2010).

“They both ran their races and that’s all you can ask for,” Baffert said of American Pharoah and Dortmund. “Turning for home they were there and they ran first and third, so I was just happy and relieved that we won the Kentucky Derby.

“We won the most important race we were aiming for, so now it’s on to the Preakness. I haven’t seen anything that would tell me American Pharoah has regressed. Both horses look good, so that means they were pretty fit.

“Going into the Derby, they were well-conditioned. You have to have good horses and they have to run their race, and they both ran their races and that’s a good sign.”

Is the shorter Preakness distance of a mile and three sixteenths and a different track surface cause for concern?

“You know what?,” Baffert said. “I’ve had a lot of success in the Preakness, because I’ve won it with really good horses. I’ve always gone in there and won with the best horse, but you still have to get the trip, the post, everything. You still have to be lucky.

“I really don’t think about it until after the draw. Then you start trying to figure out strategy. The break is still the most important part. Last year with Bayern, he just got completely eliminated at the start, so you can get eliminated, forget about what kind of horse you have.

“You never know how they’re going to run. When I got there with Silver Charm, I wasn’t sure how he was going to run, but I had just won the Derby, so I felt if he wins, fine, if he doesn’t, I still won the Derby.

“I feel good about our horses for the Preakness, but you still need to get around there.”

In conjunction with the Preakness, Santa Anita will present an attractive day of live racing along with a big Preakness party featuring the Preakness Handicapping Challenge offering $100,000 in prizes next weekend, May 16 and 17.

Admission gates open on Preakness Day at 8 a.m., first live race post time is at 11:30 a.m. For details, visit



Bal a Bali, perhaps the most dynamic South American newcomer since Carmen Miranda, likely will make his next start in the Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf June 13, Richard Mandella indicated Sunday morning.

“He came out great and we’re looking forward to the Shoemaker Mile here,” Mandella said less than 24 hours after the Brazilian import rolled to a one-length victory in the Grade III American Stakes in his U.S. debut.

“I just hate to go running him around the country yet,” Mandella added, alluding to Belmont Park’s Grade I, $1 million Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on grass June 6. “He’s just getting started, so right now I’d say that’s the plan. I’m not saying the Manhattan’s not possible, but right now the plan is to run here.”

Bal a Bali, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred horse, recorded his 12th win from 13 starts in the American, weaving his way through traffic and finding an opening in the stretch under Santa Anita’s leading rider Flavien Prat to reward favorite players with a $5 win mutuel.

The American was the first race in nearly 11 months for Bal a Bali, who overcame a major ailment before Mandella could train him up to his U.S. debut.

“It is really fulfilling to get his first race in the U.S. under his belt, because he had a serious problem coming out of quarantine when he had laminitis,” Mandella said.

“Dr. Vernon Dryden, the podiatrist at Rood & Riddle in Kentucky, did an unbelievable job getting him back to the races. I can’t say enough about the job he did.”

Mandella and Prat, meanwhile, have proved a winning combination. The 22-year-old Frenchman has ridden 15 horses for the Hall of Fame trainer this meet, winning five with five seconds. Dating back to his Southern California debut, Prat has won 17 times from 72 mounts for Mandella, 23 percent. He also has 15 seconds and six thirds for an in-the-money mark of 52 percent.

“Flavien is winning at 30 percent on turf this meet with eight wins,” points out his agent, Derek Lawson.

As to Beholder, who was scratched from yesterday’s Grade I Vanity Stakes due to a fever, Mandella said the two-time Eclipse Award winner continues to show progress.

“Her temperature is staying at a good level and her blood is getting better,” he said.



You can’t keep a good man down, the saying goes, and anyone who’s been around racing for any length of time knows Bill Spawr is a good man, especially with horses.

The 74-year-old trainer is usually the first one at the track every morning and the first one to leave, unless he has a horse running, like he did yesterday, when first-time starter Matriculate ran in the first race, winning off by 6 ½ lengths to give jockey Elvis Trujillo his 2,000th career victory.

With the aid of a four-pronged walker, Spawr was back on the beat Sunday morning recovering from back surgery, which didn’t keep him out for long.

“I was training Monday at 9 in the morning, had surgery at 2 p.m. and was back at the barn the next day,” Spawr said. “It was the first day I missed in 11 years. A disc in my L3 vertebrae broke and was pushing down on a nerve in my right knee causing numbness.

“I was lucky to have the surgery done so quickly; I hope to shed this walker very soon.”

The 31-year-old Trujillo, meanwhile, had an easy score aboard Matriculate, a 3-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit. “I want to thank the trainers and owners on the East Coast and out here who have been so good to me,” said the native of Panama, who is represented by Tom Knust.

“Trainers like Bill Spawr, Peter Miller, Jerry Hollendorfer and Steve DiMauro have helped me so much. I’d like to win 2,000 more. With God’s help and if I stay healthy, hopefully I can.”

Trujillo will be at Pimlico on Saturday, Preakness Day, to ride Oscar Party for Jim Cassidy in the Grade III Gallorette Stakes.


FINISH LINES. On a glorious Mothers’ Day morning at Santa Anita, there were 243 recorded workouts, including 13 on the turf and five on the training track. Topping the list were 28 for Jerry Hollendorfer, including 2013 Met Mile winner Sahara Sky, who went in company with Outside Nashville, getting six furlong times of 1:14.20 and 1:14, respectively. Sahara Sky is ticketed for this year’s Met Mile on Belmont Day, June 6. It wasn’t a one-day record for Hollendorfer workers, “but it was close,” said assistant Dan Ward . . . Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho is back with trainer Jim Cassidy after finishing 14th in the Kentucky Derby but future plans are on hold. “He ran well,” Cassidy said. “It was just a little too far him. He came back in good form, but we backed off him a bit. I really don’t have anything I’m pointing to right now.” . . . Longevity personified: Jose “Vinny” Castaneda, the groom for My Sweet Addiction, upset winner of Saturday’s Grade I Vanity Stakes, has been with the barn through three generations since the 1960s, starting with Farrell Jones, then his son, Gary Jones, and now Gary’s son, Marty, who trains My Sweet Addiction for owner/breeder Pamela Ziebarth . . . Racing rarity: Canny Nanny, Market Magic, Savings Account and Compelling Case finished one, two, three, four in Saturday’s 10th race at Churchill Downs. Each horse went off at odds of 7-2 . . . Through 10 days of the Spring Meet, favorites are winning at 31.40 percent (27 of 86), according to Santa Anita’s ever-efficient stat man Jason Hom. Favorites on dirt are scoring at 28.57 percent (16 of 56); on turf at 36.67 (11 of 30); odds-on favorites at 30.77 (four of 13); in-the-money favorites at 67.44 (58 of 86); and in-the-money odds-on favorites at 76.92 (10 of 13) . . . The Great Race Place presents its Santa Anita Carnival on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25. The entire family is invited for three days of live racing, carnival rides, games and prizes, with unlimited rides for children for only $10. Admission and parking to the Infield is free through Gate 6 off Colorado Place.

(Current Through Saturday, May 9)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Flavien Prat 43 11 9 2 26% $608,520
Tyler Baze 58 10 9 12 17% $480,650
Fernando Perez 37 6 7 6 16% $259,480
Joseph Talamo 38 6 2 7 16% $233,942
Rafael Bejarano 33 5 7 8 15% $261,020
Felipe Valdez 32 5 5 2 16% $173,530
Drayden Van Dyke 32 5 4 2 16% $201,710
Edwin Maldonado 30 4 7 4 13% $157,000
Elvis Trujillo 31 4 1 3 13% $186,700
Santiago Gonzalez 29 3 7 1 10% $128,570
Tiago Pereira 21 3 6 3 14% $171,220
Gonzalo Nicolas 31 3 2 6 10% $106,896
Alex Solis 11 2 3 1 18% $110,400
Mario Gutierrez 14 2 2 3 14% $109,720
Alonso Quinonez 18 2 1 4 11% $64,220
Mike Smith 11 2 1 1 18% $254,280
Brayan Pena 25 2 1 1 8% $52,870
Victor Espinoza 7 2 1 0 29% $92,270
Martin Garcia 10 2 0 1 20% $56,990
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 20 7 2 2 35% $278,960
Doug O’Neill 28 6 8 3 21% $280,620
Richard Mandella 17 5 5 1 29% $385,840
Richard Baltas 18 5 2 1 28% $281,070
William Spawr 6 3 0 0 50% $58,200
Peter Miller 17 2 6 1 12% $136,410
John Sadler 22 2 4 3 9% $131,598
Mark Glatt 18 2 3 3 11% $89,354
Jorge Periban 7 2 2 1 29% $45,870
Michael Machowsky 9 2 2 1 22% $68,850
Peter Eurton 13 2 1 3 15% $60,156
Mike Puype 19 2 1 3 11% $114,560
Bob Baffert 9 2 1 1 22% $94,740
Robertino Diodoro 9 2 1 1 22% $47,390
Dan Hendricks 7 2 1 0 29% $37,090
John Shirreffs 2 2 0 0 100% $67,200
Martin Jones 5 2 0 0 40% $199,350