Breeders' Cup talent back in Los Alamitos Futurity, Starlet Stakes

December 02, 2019 11:37am

With California’s final 2020 Kentucky Derby and Oaks preps on the agenda for Saturday at Los Alamitos, Bob Baffert’s stellar record in both events figures to be contested.

The Hall of Famer Baffert has swept the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Starlet Stakes (G1) in the last two seasons. Going back to 2014, the first year the Futurity shifted away from Hollywood Park, he has won every running at Los Al.

But 2-year-olds who finished ahead of Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup charges could go as the favorites this weekend.

In the 1 1/16-mile Futurity, a $200,000 race relegated to Grade 2 status in 2019, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d’Or looks like the headliner. The Blaine Wright trainee finished just a head back of upsetter Storm the Court in what was his second career start and first on the dirt.

Honor A. P., an impressive Oct. 13 maiden winner for trainer John Shirreffs, is another buzz-worthy colt under consideration for the Futurity. The Honor Code colt has worked consistently since strolling home a 5 1/4 length winner going a mile on the Santa Anita Park dirt.

Bob Moreno, Los Alamitos’ racing secretary, expects to see third-place Juvenile finisher Wrecking Crew line up as well. The Peter Miller-trained son of Sky Kingdom has finished in the money in all four starts, with seconds in the Best Pal (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1).

And that’s all not to say Baffert isn’t also holding some nice cards. At his best, Eight Rings has looked among the crop’s most talented colts when winning the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita. He inexplicably faded, however, from a nice spot in the Juvenile to finish sixth.

Other Baffert nominees for the Futurity include High Velocity, who has worked back since moving to 2-for-2 in Del Mar’s Bob Hope Stakes (G3). Thousand Words is a confirmed probable for the team of Albaugh Family Stable and Spendthrift Farm. The Pioneerof the Nile colt debuted a winner on Oct. 26 after those connections went to $1 million for him at auction.

The Los Alamitos Futurity awards Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to its Top 4 finishers. A look at the prospective field with entries to be taken Wednesday:

The $300,000 Starlet has retained its Grade 1 standing this season and figures to keep it into next year with a small, yet strong cast assembling to run for Kentucky Oaks qualifying points, also on the 10-4-2-1 scale.

Donna Veloce looks like the one to beat after she went from a dominant debut win at 6 1/2 furlongs right to living up to favoritism in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Simon Callaghan trainee came up a neck short to British Idiom and has worked twice since, with her Nov. 24 drill at Los Alamitos.

Baffert’s Bast, a Grade 1 winner of the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier, faded to third in the Juvenile Fillies after briefly inheriting the lead. Count her among the group of obviously talented horses running on Breeders’ Cup weekend who may not have relished the deep surface.

Leucothea, from the Miller barn, cruised to minor stakes wins in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita and Del Mar’s Desi Arnaz to affirm her status as one to watch in the division. Those performances came after she lost her jockey to start the Chandlier and backed out of a pace duel early in the Del Mar Debutante.

Moreno, the Los Alamitos racing secretary, expects other entrants beyond those three to be confirmed later. Baffert has a number of eligible fillies, with stakes winner Quality Response among those working since their last race.


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