Bob Baffert’s been through the Triple Crown drill enough times to know not to

put the cart ahead of the horse, or the horse ahead of the cart, for that matter.

            The 62-year-old Hall of Fame trainer is in the final phases of preparing for his fourth bid at winning racing’s most elusive prize, which will culminate with the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

Baffert has already enjoyed the fruits of American Pharoah’s labor in the first two jewels, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, which the son of Pioneerof the Nile won by a length and seven lengths, respectively.

The striking colt owned and bred by Ahmed Zayat will try to end a drought that began in 1979, a year after Affirmed became the 11th Triple Crown winner. Baffert previously missed the brass ring with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002.

He has benefited from the experience, unfulfilling though it’s been.

“I go day to day,” Baffert said. “American Pharoah tells you what he can handle. I’m monitoring him very closely. His energy and weight are very important. There are certain things I like to see in a horse.

“I get into Kentucky Monday and I’ll watch him train Tuesday, then come back . . . So far, Jimmy (assistant Jim Barnes) is happy with him and we know what we expect. He sees him every day and sends me videos of him and it looks like he’s holding his form.”

Meanwhile, the clock ticks inevitably onward until the gates open for the 147th Belmont Stakes. Baffert and his team will do their best by the horse until that defining moment. Waiting to pounce on American Pharoah will be some 10 equine predators out to extend the Triple Crown losing streak to 37 years.

“I know everybody right now is sharpening their knives getting ready,” Baffert said after the Preakness win. That said, he maintains a tried and true regimen and hopes for the best.

“You can get them ready but you really don’t know until you run them,” Baffert said. “When they hit the backside, then you know if they’re running well or not. After the first quarter, Victor (Espinoza) will know if it’s the same horse he’s been riding.”



Queen of The Sand seeks her first victory at a mile and an eighth when she runs in Monday’s Memorial Day feature, the Grade I Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up.

The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare trained by Paddy Gallagher for Derrick Fisher got up in the last jump to win the mile and a quarter Santa Barbara Handicap by a nose over front-running Fanticola, who is back at it in the Gamely, along with eight other entrants.

Will the shorter distance hinder Queen of The Sand?

“She seems to be doing well since the last race,” Gallagher said. “We didn’t get a great draw but she’s been training well. The distance is shorter for her than the Santa Barbara, but we’ll have to make the most of the conditions.”

The Gamely, race eight of nine: Moulin de Mougin, Mike Smith, 8-1; Three Hearts, Gary Stevens, 5-1; Blingismything, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Fanticola, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Elektrum, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Danza Cavallo, Irad Ortiz Jr., 4-1; Hard Not to Like, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; and Queen of The Sand, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1.



Fredric Prat, 46-year-old father of 22-year-old riding sensation Flavien Prat, is visiting America for the first time from his native France to watch his 22-year-old son ride.

Flavien single-handedly was responsible for Sunday’s Pick 6 carryover of $127,454 by piloting Neveradoubt to an $85.40 upset in Saturday’s Snow Chief Stakes. Through 18 racing days, Prat had 15 wins from 64 mounts, 23 percent, good for third in the standings.

“Fredric is here on a 12-day vacation to see his son because he hasn’t seen him for almost six months,” said Flavien’s agent, Derek Lawson, interpreting for the elder Prat, who is a standardbred driver in France.

“Fantastic,” was Fredric’s reaction to his son’s achievements at Santa Anita.


FINISH LINES: Musical agents: Tony Matos and Corey Nakatani have parted company, Matos now representing only Martin Garcia; Jim Pegram and David Flores are now pfffft, with Pegram taking the book of Nakatani, and Brandon O’Bryan handling Flores’ business . . . Garcia will take off his seven scheduled mounts at Santa Anita Monday and head to Churchill Downs for a workout commitment Tuesday . . . With two wins Saturday, Phil D’Amato took the lead in the trainers’ race from Doug O’Neill and Richard Baltas, 11-10. Baltas also had two wins on the day, including 15-1 outsider The Last Express under Kent Desormeaux in the 10th and final race . . . Baltas will send out Honeymoon Stakes winner Spanish Queen against possibly as many as three Chad Brown trainees in next Saturday’s Grade I American Oaks at 1 ¼ miles on turf. Brice Blanc, who has ridden Spanish Queen in her three starts, two of them victories, retains the mount on the California-bred daughter of the late Tribal Rule, who sired two of the winners on Saturday’s card exclusively for Cal-breds . . . Tyler Baze won three races–all stakes–to open a 19-16 lead over runner-up Rafael Bejarano in the race for jockey honors . . . Jerry Hollendorfer reports Santa Anita Handicap winner Shared Belief “doing great, coming right along,” as he recovers from a right hip injury at the Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center in Redmond, Washington . . . Santa Anita will race through Monday’s Memorial Day holiday, then be dark for live racing Tuesday through Thursday and return with live racing Friday at 4 p.m. There will be simulcast racing Thursday, May 28, with free parking and free General Admission. Tomorrow is Dollar Day at Santa Anita, with beer, soda and hot dogs on sale for a buck apiece.


(Current Through Saturday, May 23)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Tyler Baze 103 19 12 20 18% $975,030
Rafael Bejarano 77 16 17 15 21% $780,422
Flavien Prat 64 15 13 2 23% $839,650
Joseph Talamo 70 14 3 14 20% $455,468
Fernando Perez 70 12 9 9 17% $455,950
Edwin Maldonado 56 7 12 9 13% $274,890
Felipe Valdez 65 7 10 5 11% $289,450
Drayden Van Dyke 50 7 6 5 14% $331,588
Tiago Pereira 31 6 7 4 19% $270,670
Gonzalo Nicolas 63 5 6 11 8% $194,228
Mike Smith 23 5 6 1 22% $468,330
Elvis Trujillo 54 5 4 7 9% $262,540
Santiago Gonzalez 53 4 11 4 8% $229,326
Kent Desormeaux 36 4 5 4 11% $200,840
Martin Garcia 18 4 2 2 22% $112,170
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 32 11 4 4 34% $573,390
Doug O’Neill 56 10 12 6 18% $468,498
Richard Baltas 31 10 3 2 32% $418,270
Peter Miller 43 9 11 2 21% $352,710
Richard Mandella 21 6 5 2 29% $436,220
Eddie Truman 12 6 1 1 50% $220,150
John Sadler 37 5 7 5 14% $216,758
Mike Puype 35 4 7 6 11% $333,530
Bob Baffert 15 4 2 2 27% $183,310
Vann Belvoir 27 3 5 4 11% $124,390
Mark Glatt 28 3 4 4 11% $155,374
Michael Machowsky 15 3 4 1 20% $105,320
Robertino Diodoro 18 3 2 3 17% $109,990
William Spawr 14 3 2 2 21% $86,110
Dan Hendricks 9 3 2 0 33% $109,890
Bruce Headley 10 3 1 0 30% $76,450