Photo: Benoit Photo
Get War Academy
an invitation. With a breathtaking 3 ½ length
allowance score going 1 1/16 miles on Friday, the Kentucky-bred son of
Giant’s Causeway is ready to join the Derby party according to both Bob
Baffert and Mike Smith.
In only his third start and in his first try around two turns,
4-5 favorite War Academy was 5 ½ lengths behind stablemate Manando with
three eighths of a mile to run but easily reeled him in, winning with
his ears pricked in 1:43.42.
“He might be my (Derby) horse Bob,” said Smith to Baffert
following War Academy’s win in Friday’s second race. “What I like so
much about him is there’s sooo much room to improve. He was well, well
within himself today.”
War Academy, owned by Michael Tabor, John Magnier and Derrick
Smith, broke from post position five in a six-horse field and rated
kindly throughout, tracking fractions of 24.41, 48.64, 1:11.89 and
1:36.89. He paid $3.80, $2.20 and $2.10.
Fourth, beaten 2 ½ lengths in the Grade II, seven furlong San
Vicente Stakes on Feb. 17, War Academy was a first-out maiden special
weight winner going 6 ½ furlongs on Nov. 9 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
With Friday’s winner’s share of $34,800, War Academy, a $450,000
Keeneland September yearling purchase, increased his earnings to
$70,800. With the Kentucky Derby looming just seven weeks away on May
4, War Academy will undoubtedly be pointed for a Derby prep in his next
start if he is to accrue the necessary qualifying points.
“I’m going to run him in a big prep, he’ll hit one of the big
preps,” said Baffert. “I don’t know where yet, but it’ll be a hundred
(qualifying) points whatever it is. We’re goin’ for the bonus
round…Mike’s always been real high on this horse.”
Manando, who stopped badly as the 2-1 favorite in his previous
race, the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles El Camino Real Derby, finished second, 3
¾ lengths in front of longshot Brokered. Ridden by Martin Garcia, who
had ridden War Academy in his first two starts, Manando was the second
choice at 7-5 and paid $2.40 and $2.20.
Brokered, off at 17-1 to with David Flores, finished 1 ½ lengths clear of Kid Dreams and paid $2.80 to show.