With a handful of legitimate prospects for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert appears ready to take a divide-and-conquer approach to the next round of preps.
That includes potentially shipping dual graded-stakes winner Thousand Words to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 4. The nine-furlong test offers Derby qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to its top four-finishers.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm in partnership with Dennis Albaugh's Albaugh Family Stable, the bay son of Pioneerof the Nile was handed his first loss when fourth in the San Felipe (G2) on March 7 at Santa Anita last out, a race that was won by stablemate Authentic.
Currently ninth on the leaderboard with 25 qualifying points, Thousand Words broke his maiden in October at Santa Anita before stretching out to two turns to win the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) on Dec. 7 and the Robert B. Lewis (G3) on Feb. 1, earning 10 points for each race.
"Bob has so many prospects, and he needs to separate them," said Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables. "He said after the San Felipe that Authentic would stay there. We may need more points, and it makes sense that the Wood and Bluegrass [on April 4 at Keeneland] are the two options."
Thousand Words is the first horse that Baffert has trained for Albaugh, and Loutsch sung high praises regarding his experience with the storied conditioner.
"He's a true horseman and he's a businessman," Loutsch said. "I've been thoroughly impressed with his operations. His communication with his owners has been fantastic. It seems like the second the horse crosses the finish line, he's calling or texting his owners."
Thousand Words was a $1 million acquisition from the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Brookdale Sales. Bred in Florida by Hardacre Farm, Thousand Words is out of the three-time graded stakes winning Pomeroy broodmare Pomeroys Pistol.
Baffert speculated that the grind-it-out sort of colt came too close to the pace in the San Felipe, offering up nothing in the lane of his first defeat.