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Breeders' Cup 2017

Baffert Hopes Flashback Relaxes in SA Derby

Flashback with jockey JULIEN LEPAROUX up wins the 2013 running of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on February 02, 2013.
Flashback, second as the even money favorite in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 9, heads a field of nine sophomores lined up to contest the 76th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday—with the winner to be awarded 100 all-important qualifying points to ensure a berth in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

Owned by Gary and Mary West, Flashback is trained by Bob Baffert, who will saddle a total of three horses as he seeks a record seventh victory in the Santa Anita’s signature race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.

An impressive 6 ½ length winner of the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2, Flashback got caught up in a heated head and head pace duel in the San Felipe and finished an impressive second, beaten a half length, by Hear the Ghost, who will also run in the Derby.

Following the San Felipe, Baffert announced that Garrett Gomez would replace Julien Leparoux, who had ridden the Kentucky-bred son of Tapit in all three of his career starts.

In addition to Hear the Ghost and Flashback, the third and fourth place finishers in the San Felipe, Tiz a Minister and Goldencents, will also run on Saturday.

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who won the Santa Anita Derby a year ago with I’ll Have Another, who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, will saddle Goldencents, who was an impressive winner of the one-mile Sham Stakes (Grade III) on Jan. 5, but was a pace casualty in the 1 1/16 miles San Felipe.

Goldencents will again be handled by Kevin Krigger and Tiz a Minister gets a new rider in Joe Talamo, as Garrett Gomez opts for Flashback.

The complete field for the Santa Anita Derby, to be run as the ninth-race on an 11-race program from the rail out, with comment, morning line and jockeys, is as follows:

FLASHBACK 9-5 Garrett Gomez

All things considered, this grey son of Tapit ran a sensational second as the San Felipe favorite and is the horse to beat on Saturday. He should get patient handling with Gomez taking over and Baffert trainee has a solid work tab since his last race. Look for him to be attentive to the pace, but not head and head early.

HEAR THE GHOST 5-2 Corey Nakatani

He no-doubt benefited from a fast pace in the March 9 San Felipe, but impeccably bred son of Ghostzapper is the real deal and should improve with added distance. Ridden brilliantly by Corey Nakatani last time, he could provide both Nakatani and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with their best-ever chance to win the Kentucky Derby.

POWER BROKER 5-1 Rafael Bejarano

Baffert trainee has been idle since running fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3 and needs to win or run second to get the points necessary to make a Run for the Roses in Kentucky. Son of Pulpit broke his maiden in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes Sept. 29 and has trained lights-out for his return to action. Rafael Bejarano, who had his choice of several horses in the race, sticks with “The Power.”

TIZ A MINISTER 6-1 Joe Talamo

A maiden $40,000 claim by Paul Aguirre on Aug. 2, this California-bred colt by Ministers Wild Cat flew from dead last to finish third in the San Felipe and will hope for a similar pace scenario on Saturday. With Garrett Gomez opting to ride Flashback, Joe Talamo will be aboard for the first time. Tiz a Minister has more game-day experience than anyone in the field, as he’ll make his 11th career start in the Derby.

GOLDENCENTS 6-1 Kevin Krigger

Got caught up in a suicidal pace duel with Flashback in the San Felipe and the connections are intent on avoiding a similar scenario in the Santa Anita Derby. He rated kindly in the Sham Stakes on Jan. 5, and trainer O’Neill has tried to gear his stable star down in the mornings, but he could be on the lead anyway. Owned in-part by University of Louisville Basketball Coach Rick Pitino, the connections are hoping to run first or second (worth 50 points) in order to secure the necessary points for a run at the Kentucky Derby.

SUPER NINETY NINE 6-1 Martin Garcia

Trained by Baffert, Super Ninety Nine was a brilliant gate to wire winner of the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18, but he pressed the pace and tired badly as the favorite in Oaklawn’s Rebel on March 16. An impressive allowance winner going a mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 31, he sat second early that day and won going away by 3 ¼ lengths. Favored in five of his six lifetime starts, the Kentucky-bred by Pulpit is well seasoned and highly regarded.

SUMMER EXCLUSIVE 20-1 Edwin Maldonado

Surprise entrant for trainer Peter Miller was a first-out maiden special weight winner going 6 ½ furlongs on March 2, winning by a length in fast time, 1:15.88.

Florida-bred colt by Exclusive Quality has had three works at Betfair Hollywood Park since his win, including a seven furlong move in 1:26 flat on March 25. Look for him to be on lead or thereabouts early with Edwin Maldonado up.

STORM FIGHTER 20-1 Gary Stevens

Veteran trainer Bruce Headley, who was second with Bertrando to eventual Eclipse Champion Horse of the Year A.P. Indy in the 1992 Santa Anita Derby, will take a big swing with California-bred Storm Fighter, who comes of a maiden special weight win going 1 1/16 miles versus statebreds. Comebacking Gary Stevens sticks with the longshot son of Stormin Fever and will try to win a record 10th Santa Anita Derby. Bred by the late Larry Mabee of Golden Eagle Farm, look for Storm Fighter to try to settle close to the early pace on Saturday.

DIRTY SWAGG 50-1 Tyler Baze

Owner/breeder/trainer Myung Kwon Cho likes to swing for the fences, but it would seem he’ll need a significant tailwind to reach the warning track with his Dirty Swagg. Well beaten in his last two starts, the Sham Stakes and the CashCall Futurity, the ridgling by Street Hero was third in the minor Real Quiet Stakes on Nov. 10, and he’ll need to run back to that race in order to be competitive on Saturday.

In addition to the Derby, Santa Anita will offer three other graded stakes on Saturday, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, the Grade II Potrero Grande and the Grade III Providencia. First post on Santa Anita Derby Day is at 12 noon.



(In response to the rail position given to him once again in a big race)

“That’s why I don’t come (to the draw). I always get jinxed when I come to the draws. It’s one of those things, once they draw there’s nothing you can do so you just make the best of it. I really don’t like the one hole, but we have it.

What makes the SA Derby so exciting, is not only if you win it you punch your ticket for the Kentucky Derby, but it’s …one thing I’ve learned is that the mile and a eighth distance really starts separating the ones that want to go on. You go into a race thinking, ‘I think I’ve got a chance’ …I remember Cavonnier, I ran him in a prep before the SA Derby, he got beat goin’ a mile, I didn’t think he was Derby bound and I ran him back two weeks later thinking I’d give him one more try and he won easy, he was needing the extra distance. War Emblem, he’s another horse that as soon as he went a mile and a eighth he did well; he was also needing the extra distance. We’re going to find out Saturday the horses that actually want to go that far and the cream always rises to the top. The good horses are always right there.

Hear the Ghost is only getting better and better. Flashback, I’ve got Power Broker he’s actually training really well who ran here during the Autumn Meet. Super Ninety Nine ran really well here, went to Oaklawn and did not show up at all in the Rebel but he’s been training well here. The mile and an eighth really separates them. We’ll find out and the fans get the chance to see these horses and get ready to follow them through the Classics.”

(In response to how Baffert feels about the Derby point system and how that might affect his three different horses chances)

“The point system brings the horses that are in good form to the Derby, which is a good thing. Hawthorne Park did got left out in the cold, no points there (Illinois Derby). The ones it really affects are the fillies, they have to run against the boys in order to get any points towards the Derby. A horse like Dreaming of Julia, would have to run against the boys.

I’ve always gone to the Derby with a horse that was running well and you don’t want to go to the Derby with a horse that’s off form just because you love him and he’s a two-year-old. I think when it’s all said and done they’ll look it over and decide if it was a good idea but to get into the Derby now, you’ll have to run one-two. We’ll know after the race.”

(Power Broker looks to be the biggest question for Handicappers since he has been away so long)

“He ran the BC Juvenile, he was on the outside, and it seemed like a speed-biased track that day so I told Rafael (Bejarano) to get him into the race and send him out there. Well, he didn’t break well and I was hoping that Rafael wasn’t going to listen to my instructions, and he did, and he emptied out early. He was just chasing them the whole way.

We gave him some time off, he filled out, matured, and he can get the distance. He doesn’t have to be near the lead and Rafael is just going to ride him with confidence. It was either this or an allowance race and he’s got a good foundation. He’s run at Del Mar, he’s run here, he’s won a Grade I, so the only thing I’m worried about distance-wise is if he can get it fast enough. You need a good trip, and some luck.

The Santa Anita Derby is always such an exciting race. The fans love watching these 3-year-olds run. You never know who the next super star is going to be. Even as trainers, just like watching Animal Kingdom the other day still is exciting. We’re always looking for a horse to step up and separate themselves. Flashback is training well, and that last race toughened him up, he needed that. I still think Goldencents is a really good horse and I just think he got compromised with Flashback. Hear the Ghost is another one coming up that ladder. If they’re going to win, they have to bring their ‘A’ game.”


(In response to what Corey makes of his chances here in the Santa Anita Derby)

“Well, I think it will make for a pretty good race. Hopefully, the scenario will pan out, and another speed horse has been entered, Pete Miller’s horse (Summer Exclusive). The way it could pan out, is that my horse is young, he’s getting better each race that he’s run as you can tell by his form and this guy to my right (Bob Baffert), he’s always tough in these races. I’m out there, I’m giving a hundred and twenty percent to try and put my best foot forward with Hear the Ghost so hopefully his last race didn’t take too much out of him.

In his last race, on the day, it felt like it was a speed biased racetrack in the San Felipe and for those colts to run that fast and still be there and stick around at the end, like Flashback, he deserves to be the favorite (in here). Hopefully, Hear the Ghost keeps moving forward and he doesn’t have to run his best race, but at the same time you want him to show positive signs going into not only this race, but the Kentucky Derby.”

(In response to if Corey has noticed any changes in the colt since winning the San Felipe on March 9.)

“Yeah, he kind of reminds me of a horse I got on for Bob (Baffert) back in the day. He’s kind of nonchalant, goes about his business, and doesn’t really get too excited. When I first started to get on him he was a little rambunctious, bucking, squealing, having fun and not really putting his best foot forward. The horse I’m mentioning was Cavonnier, who ran second in the Kentucky Derby by about this much (holds up his fingers to show about an inch and asks Baffert if that was about the distance to which Baffert replied ‘less’). (Cavonnier lost to Grindstone in the 1996 Kentucky Derby in which the official margin of victory was a nose).

He (HTG) just seems like that caliber of horse. He’s a little green still in what’s going on but when I called on him in the San Felipe that last eighth of a mile he really laid it down and showed that he’s got the ability to be here. Hopefully we can get another SA Derby and look forward to going to Kentucky.”

(In response to what the win would mean for him even after all of these years)

“Well, I’ve told Baffert that he owes me a Kentucky Derby but in this business you just keep going about your business and keep trying to find a horse that’s a legitimate contender in the Kentucky Derby, let alone (a winner). I’ve been fortunate to run fourth a few times, I ran second on Nehro. It not only would be a dream come true but a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, and a lot of joy would come to my heart and my family’s heart. I’m sure a lot of people have been in my shoes…Laffit has one, Pat Day has one, so hopefully the good lord has one for me too.”


“He’s doing fantastic. He just worked 1:13 over at Hollywood, and I was real excited about that, until I started to look at some of the other horses’ (in the SA Derby) works. It seems like everybody is coming up to the race right, but I couldn’t be happier with the way my horse is coming up.”

(It looks like there will be plenty of speed in the race for you)

“That’s what we plan on doing, just sitting back and hoping some of the other horses get in a hot pace battle where we can come up.”

(In response to what it would mean for him to win the SA Derby)

“You know, the most important thing, the biggest thing it would mean… it would be a way for me to pay back my client Steve Young. He’s been in this business with me for twenty years and he would get a little bit of his money back. That would make him very happy.”


(In response to how he thinks the SA Derby will play out, pace-wise)

“I think this race will be different from the San Felipe. I think the pace will be more relaxed in here. I don’t think Flashback will be head-to-head with me going into the turn or around the turn, and I think that will give us a fairer chance at having a more relaxed scenario.”

(In response to if Goldencents can go a 1 1/8 miles)

“This horse can go a mile and an eighth. Last race he had nine weeks off, and this race, he’s coming back in a month. We will have a horse that’s ready and he won’t be as fresh, as rank as he was in the San Felipe.”

(In response to how loyal Doug O’Neill has been towards Krigger)

“Yes, he has. Normally, in this situation I’m on the outside looking in. This time, I’m actually in it. To actually have ridden a horse this good, and to unfortunately have lost twice on him, and still be riding in the Santa Anita Derby means a lot. Doug stuck with me and he’s sticking with me. I just want to thank him and thank God that I’m in the situation I’m in riding in the Santa Anita Derby, and prepping for the Kentucky Derby.”

(In response to what it would mean to Krigger to win here and go on to the Kentucky Derby especially given how hard he and his agent Tom Knust have worked)

“You know, like you said Tom Knust got me from Golden Gate to ride here and I’ve had good agents before, but Tom has worked overtime. Believe me, he’s doin’ a heck of a job to have me in this situation right now. It’s a privilege to possibly win the Santa Anita Derby and go on to the Kentucky Derby, it will be more than a dream come true, it will be historical, so I want to make history.”


(In response to if he thinks Storm Fighter is good enough to win)

“Well, that’s what the race is for, we’ll find out. He’s training great. He’s an extremely good looking horse, so we’ve had high hopes.

(In response to having to face ‘the best in the west’ come Saturday)

“Well, this isn’t the first time (I’ve had to face the best ‘out west’) because every time I run a race, Mr. Baffert has one of the ‘best in the west’ in every race so this is something you’ve got to get used to.

(In response to what going to the Kentucky Derby would mean to him)

“Well, it’s just a dream, and something you always look forward to. It would be really great for my family and for Golden Eagle (Farm).



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Older Comments about Baffert Hopes Flashback Relaxes in SA Derby ...

Colts exiting faster paces of race, tend to do better than those leaving so so paces of race......We got a glimpse of that one's UPPER end limit
one of the CONSTANTS as regards the big race that first Saturday in May is LUCK......Hoist the Flag did not have it, Unbridled Song didn't either, even Lookin at Lucky who even had the word in his name........Ability, peaking at the right time, and LUCK squared.....then there is the most unlucky of them all Native Dancer.
Flashback's last race had to take something out of him. Those fractions were insane and he was still there at the end. His last two works were impressive though. If he can rate he'll be tough, especially with a good dirt jockey.
Someone not being able to realize their Derby dream is sad, to me. Good news is that Hear The Ghost should be fine in a few months. Still, this news was depressing, although not devastating. I can't begin to imagine how difficult a time like this is for the connections.
With Hear The Ghost out, my revised Super is: Tiz a Minister, Super Ninety Nine, Power Broker, Flashback.
I think think cream will rise to the top here. No surprises. flashback has a little more experience, 2nd hear the ghost, 3rd golden cents, 4th tiz a minister. 9 furlongs is a little too long for go and tiz
My Superfecta: Tiz a Minister, Hear The Ghost, Super Ninety Nine, Power Broker. Will definitely box that exacta.
If Leparoux picked up the mount on Tiz a Minister, I would have been all in on that hunchplay.
Think Hear the Ghost bounces off that last effort. Flashback; Tiz a Minister; Power Broker; Super Ninety Nine. Baffert dominates!
No weight advantage in SA Derby, dipak
sure it will be Flashback? Here The Ghost giving Flashback 5lbs advantage, this time Flashback will burry Here The Ghost?

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