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It's Bode Miller Time at Santa Anita Park

Add a late bonus to the myriad of festivities that will unfold at Santa Anita this weekend: Miller Time. Olympic and World Champion gold medalist skier Bode Miller will be on hand Saturday to watch his horse Carving run in the inaugural FrontRunner Stakes, a Grade I, $250,000 “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

Trained by Bob Baffert and also owned by his wife, Jill, Carving is unbeaten in his two starts, winning an $80,000 maiden claiming race at Del Mar on Aug. 23 under Chantal Sutherland before posting an easy win as the 4-5 favorite in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 12 under Martin Garcia, who has the mount in the FrontRunner.

“This is Miller’s first horse,” said Baffert, whose 7-year-old son, Bode, is named for the 34-year-old, a native of New Hampshire who is considered the most successful American alpine ski racer of all time and one of the greatest World Cup racers of all time with 33 victories. Miller turns 35 on Oct. 12.

“I would always see Bode at the (Kentucky) Derby and he would hang out with us at Del Mar,” Baffert said in explaining how they joined forces to get the colt. “The day after the Preakness I was checking out horses at a sale for my other clients and I think he got the bug.

“He said, ‘I might be interested in something in the 50, 60 (thousand dollar) range.’ So we looked but we really couldn’t find anything at that price. But I gave him a video, a DVD, of the two-day sale and then he kept texting me, ‘This one looks good, that one looks good,’ so I kept looking, and I liked the way this horse breezed and I liked the way he moved.

“He worked OK and I told him ‘I think he might be OK for us. If he doesn’t work out, we can always run him for a high (claiming) tag at Del Mar.’ So I had (bloodstock agent) Donnato Lanni check the horse out and send me a picture, and he looked great in the picture. So we bought him for $55,000.

“He’s not a big horse, and when we got him at Del Mar, Bode said, ‘Boy, he’s not very big,’ and I said, ‘Well what do you expect for $55,000?’ Carving looks a lot like his sire (Any Given Saturday). After I worked him, I decided to run him for 80 claiming. He broke in a little bit, then he came on and he won (by 1 ¾ lengths at 5-1), and Bode goes, ‘I thought you said he couldn’t run.’

“The horse shows more in the afternoon than he does in the morning. Bode lives on a boat in San Diego but he will be here Saturday. He’s all excited, although I told him it’s not this easy and he’s going to be stepping it up (in the FrontRunner).”

The field for the FrontRunner: Carving, Martin Garcia; Gabriel Charles, Joe Talamo; Dirty Swagg, David Flores; The Whole Deal, Edwin Maldonado; Dry Summer, Rosie Napravnik; Imperative, Aaron Gryder; Know More, Garrett Gomez; Capo Bastone, Victor Espinoza; Den’s Legacy, Alonso Quinonez; Power Broker, Rafael Bejarano; and Wild Student, Iggy Puglisi.

 

 

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