Bob Baffert, as successful on the Triple Crown trail as Steph Curry is from the three-point line, likes Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to win Saturday’s Preakness Stakes and set up a possible Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

“Always Dreaming,” said Baffert without hesitation when asked who he liked in the Preakness. “It’s a two-horse race, him and (Mark) Casse, (Classic Empire).

“That’s it. It’s a two-horse race and I give the edge to Always Dreaming.”

Baffert, who became the first trainer in 37 years to capture the Triple Crown when he sent out American Pharoah to accomplish the elusive feat in 2015, had no horse entered in the Run for the Roses this year, and has none entered in the Preakness.

Undefeated Mastery, trained by Baffert, would have been the Derby favorite had he not been forced to miss the race due to an injury suffered after winning the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 11.

The lineup for the $1.5 million Preakness at 1 3/16 miles with an approximate post time of 3:48 Pacific: Multiplier, Joel Rosario, 30-1; Cloud Computing, Javier Castellano, 12-1; Hence, Florent Geroux, 20-1; Always Dreaming, John Velazquez, 4-5; Classic Empire, Julien Leparoux, 3-1; Gunnevera, Mike Smith, 15-1; Term of Art, Jose Ortiz, 30-1; Senior Investment, Channing Hill, 30-1, Lookin At Lee, Corey Lanerie, 10-1; and Conquest Mo Money, Jorge Carreno,15-1.

Shuttle service to and from Santa Anita via the Metro Gold Line Arcadia Station Saturday will run 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate extended hours for the Preakness.



Champion Stellar Wind worked six furlongs under regular rider Victor Espinoza at 6:30 Friday morning in 1:12.80 for the Grade I, $400,000 Beholder Mile for fillies and mares, three and up, on June 3. She worked in company with Pappou, who was clocked in 1:14 flat.

“Stellar Wind looked very nice, very sharp,” said John Sadler, who trains the Eclipse Award winner as outstanding three-year-old filly of 2015 for owners Kosta and Peter Hronis.

“She’s excellent,” Espinoza said after the drill. “Her work today was unbelievable, better than ever. I was really excited. She worked in company but her company couldn’t keep up with her. I was behind Pappou by two lengths and left her at the quarter pole and just went on.”

Also possible for the Beholder are two-time Eclipse champion Songbird, champion female sprinter of 2016 Finest City, and streaking graded stakes winner Vale Dori.

“It will be an instant classic, it really will, with such high quality mares,” Sadler said. “The downside is you don’t get horses shipping from the east, because why would they travel cross country to run against mares that tough?”

Espinoza will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, tomorrow, serving as Grand Marshall of the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.



John Sadler hopes a return to “home cooking” will result in a return to form for Moe Candy in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes for the five-year-old gray son of Candy Ride owned by the Hronis brothers, Kosta and Peter.

In five races on Santa Anita’s main track, the consistent Moe Candy has two wins, two seconds and a third.

Moe Candy, never worse than third in his seven previous races, finished sixth last out in the Count Fleet Sprint Championship at Oaklawn Park April 15 in a five-wide trip going six furlongs under Victor Espinoza.

“He didn’t like the track, his hind legs got cut up and he was slipping and sliding all over, Victor said,” explained Sadler. “He’s come back and had three works and looked real good, so we’re back in the Kona Gold.”

The field for the Kona Gold, race nine of 11 with a first post time of 12 noon: Moe Candy, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1; Calculator, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 7-2; Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens, 9-2; Kentuckian, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Touched by Autism, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Ransom the Moon, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Lord Simba, Martin Garcia, 5-2; and Eastwood, Joe Talamo, 6-1. Dr. Dorr was scratched.



Saturday’s Kona Gold Stakes is named for the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner who was trained with a fine tooth comb by Bruce Headley, who nursed the son of Java Gold to successful campaigns through his nine-year-old season.

Kona Gold won 14 of 30 career starts, including the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs as a six-year-old, breaking the track and Breeders’ Cup record for six furlongs in a time of 1:07.77. That year he won an Eclipse Award as champion sprinter and was runner-up in Horse of the Year voting to Tiznow.

At the sprightly age of nine, Kona Gold won the Grade III El Conejo Handicap in 2003 before retiring at 10 the next year with earnings of $2,293,284. He spent several years as Headley’s stable pony after his retirement and was euthanized in September of 2009 at the age of 15 after a paddock accident at the Kentucky Horse Park, where he resided in the Hall of Champions for almost two years.

“Kona Gold was perfectly made, never nervous, a natural runner and sound as a brass bell,” recalled the 83-year-old Headley, patriarch of a racing family that include his wife, Aase, daughter Karen, and son, Gus.

“He was sired by a router but built like a quarter horse, so I always sprinted him.”


FINISH LINES: There were 164 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Friday, 18 on the training track. Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill who will fly to Baltimore tonight to saddle Term of Art in Saturday’s Preakness, was riding shotgun. Mora supervised 34 drills by O’Neill runners, including a five furlong move by Grade I Triple Bend winner Denman’s Call, who was clocked in 1:00.20, handily from the gate . . . Trainer Richard Baltas has San Clemente Handicap winner Mokat scheduled to work Saturday under Rafael Bejarano for the Grade I Gamely Stakes next Saturday. Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has monster mare Lady Eli, winner of seven of her 10 career races with three seconds by a combined margin of less than a length, set to come in for the nine furlong race on turf where she will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., who has been aboard the daughter Divine Park in all of her races . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting next Thursday, May 25, 9:30 a.m. at Santa Anita. The Race Dates Committee will meet 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 24, followed by the Medication, Safety and Welfare Committee at 12:30 p.m. The meetings will be in the Baldwin Terrace Room and the public is encouraged to attend. An audio-only webcast of the Board meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast).


(Current Through Thursday, May 18)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 66 18 8 13 27% 59% $690,548
Rafael Bejarano 65 16 10 11 25% 57% $707,050
Joseph Talamo 85 15 16 12 18% 51% $650,389
Tyler Baze 79 12 13 16 15% 52% $582,333
Tiago Pereira 63 9 10 10 14% 46% $373,460
Martin Pedroza 58 9 5 6 16% 34% $276,200
Stewart Elliott 78 7 8 10 9% 32% $326,067
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 44 7 6 8 16% 48% $388,348
Evin Roman 33 7 4 6 21% 52% $180,504
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Peter Miller 53 15 8 8 28% 58% $547,870
Richard Baltas 47 14 7 9 30% 64% $535,389
Philip D’Amato 51 12 8 6 24% 51% $563,605
Bob Baffert 21 9 3 3 43% 71% $546,675
Doug O’Neill 40 7 9 7 18% 58% $307,783
Steven Miyadi 27 7 4 8 26% 70% $190,334
Jerry Hollendorfer 33 6 5 5 18% 48% $257,940