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