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Breeders' Cup 2017

Blueskiesnrainbows Sneaks Away in Swaps

Bob Baffert
Blueskiesnrainbows, who earned his maiden victory against $30,000 claimers last Dec. 11, became a graded stakes winner Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Giving jockey Joe Talamo his second consecutive win in the Grade II, $150,000 Swaps Stakes, the English Channel colt led throughout, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Nonios and five other fellow 3-year-olds.

Racing in blinkers for the first time since Feb. 9, Blueskiesnrainbows earned his third win in eight starts for Bad Boy Racing LLC and Whizway Farms and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

The victory in 1:50.89 for the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track was a record fifth in the Swaps for Baffert. The trainer had been tied for most in a race first run in 1974 with fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

Out of the Deputy Minister mare Cho Cho San, Blueskiesnrainbows paid $9.60, $6.60 and $3.

Losing for the first time in four starts against his own age group, Nonios returned $4.20 and $2.60. The show price on Liaison, the 2-1 favorite also trained by Baffert, was $2.40. The 2011 CashCall Futurity winner finished a head behind Nonios.

Returning to California after finishing a distant ninth in the Grade II American Turf May 4 at Churchill Downs, Blueskiesnrainbows got the same kind of front running trip he had when almost pulling a huge surprise in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby April 7.

Dismissed at 42-1, the Virginia bred had a clear lead early before finishing third, only a half-length behind winner I’ll Have Another, who went on to capture the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Now 2-for-2 locally, Blueskiesnrainbows received token pressure from All Squared Away and Called to Serve through pedestrian fractions (24.15, 48.18 and 1:12.88 for six furlongs) and had more than enough left to increase his earnings to $221,242.

“Joe did a great job of slowing it down,’’ said Baffert after a Spring/Summer meet high ninth stakes victory. “I thought I could run first and second, but Liaison kind of struggled a little bit with the slow pace. I was a little disappointed, but they ran their races. I’ll get them down to Del Mar and decide what to do with them.’’

Talamo, who upset the Baffert-trained Coil when riding Dreamy Kid in the 2011 Swaps, said the winner fought hard, just as he had in the near miss in the Santa Anita Derby.

“(Baffert) told me to sit still until he switches leads and to save as much horse as you can until the last part,’’ said Talamo. “That’s pretty much what we did. I appreciate the opportunity they gave me with him.’’

Rousing Sermon was fourth, 2 ¼ lengths behind Liaison, then came Called to Serve, Empire Way and All Squared Away.

Favored Valley Cat won his second in a row, taking the sixth, a race in which all half-dozen starters were related to Unusual Heat.

The prolific California based stallion sired runner-up He’s Very Rare, third place finisher Huntsville as well as Kessabtsi, who trailed. Meanwhile, Valley Cat is out of the Unusual Heat mare Jane Blossom and Warren’s Dr. Yang, who finished fifth, is out of the Unusual Heat mare Unusual Moment.

The day’s final race was taken by 17-10 favorite Wellington Beauty, giving trainer Hector Palma a victory on his 75th birthday.


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