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Liaison Possible for Kentucky Derby

Bob Baffert had three starters in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby in a bid to add to his record sixth win in the race. After third-place Blueskiesnrainbows, 9-1 shot Paynter, making only his second career start, finished fourth, while Liaison ran sixth.

 

“Paynter stumbled at the start and that sort of took him out,” Baffert said. “I was hoping he’d be sitting second or third. Turning for home, I thought maybe he’d be able to pull it off, but I guess Creative Cause kind of ran by. Liaison just never really got untracked.”

 

Asked whether Liaison would go on to Kentucky, since he should have enough graded earnings at $393,000, Baffert indicated he planned to ship him, along with fillies Eden’s Moon and Princess Arabella who are candidates for the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.

 

“Liaison never has liked this track,” Baffert said. “He ran well yesterday. He broke his maiden here. But he ran better at Hollywood Park. (Rafael) Bejarano never really seemed comfortable on him--he got stuck on the inside a little.

 

“Blueskiesnrainbows is the kind of horse that maybe goes to the Belmont. He could run all day. That was a big improvement for him. Paynter ran a really good race. He had some trouble and still figured it out.

 

“The winner ran a good race. He was in the same spot all the way, and the kid (Mario Gutierrez) rode a really good race. He was just stalking us, and Creative Cause looked like he was going to open up, and he just cut in between there. He ran fast.”

 

Bob Baffert worked San Felipe Stakes runner-up Bodemeister in company with Saddleranch for next Saturday’s Arkansas Derby, Bodemeister going five furlongs in 1:00.40 under Martin Garcia while Saddleranch was clocked in 1:00.80 with Rafael Bejarano up. Arkansas Derby-bound Secret Circle is scheduled to work Monday, said Baffert, who supervised Sunday’s exercises while sitting in a Santa Anita grandstand seat along with his brother, Bill.

 

Del Mar Futurity winner Drill also worked for Baffert, going five furlongs in 1:00.80 with Garcia aboard in preparation for next Saturday’s Blue Grass at Keeneland.

 

“I feel better this morning,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, recovering from a heart attack on March 26. “I was a little weak yesterday. Now I feel like 100 dollars.”

 

Gutierrez enjoyed a subdued post-Santa Anita Derby victory celebration Saturday evening. “I had dinner with friends,” the 25-year-old native of Mexico said.

 

Impressive maiden winner Holy Candy, who passed the Santa Anita Derby for the Blue Grass, worked six furlongs Sunday for John Sadler in 1:13.40. The son of Candy Ride will ship into Keeneland “about mid-afternoon Tuesday.”

 

Asked about skipping the Santa Anita Derby, Sadler said, “We thought three weeks would be better than two (following his maiden win) and Candy Rides run well on both surfaces, and he’s done a lot of training on synthetics (Keeneland’s main track is synthetic Polytrack).”

 

Asked about the Santa Anita Derby outcome: “It was tough; they ran good. It’s a really good group this year, from what I’ve seen.”

 

Sadler also worked comebacking stakes winners Switch and Zazu five furlongs in 1:00.80 and 1:01.60, respectively.

 

Joe Talamo, on a roll in recent weeks, had high praise for Blueskiesnrainbows. “We had an unbelievable trip. He got to the lead and pretty much had the race to himself the whole way. We tried kicking away at the quarter pole and he really responded well. He just got outrun by two really good horses.

 

“But I think he’s going to get better from there. He really stepped up from his previous form. For me personally, I’m glad I’m finishing strong this meet after a slow start. That’s horse racing, just up and down. You just have to stick with it.”

 

 

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