Bob Baffert hasn't has much to smile about recently but he has a great chance for a 1-2 in the Los Alamitos Derby
The Grade III Los Alamitos Derby is the Feature Race on the card but has failed to attract a deep field. Five are in and our editor thinks it will be dominated by two Baffert horses. He previews the race and handicaps this card at Los Alamitos Race Course this Sunday...
The Grade III Los Alamitos Derby is going ahead 24 hours later than planned following the addition of the Bob Baffert trained Classier to the initial field of four, enabling the race to run with five runners. With only eight nominations and four entered - the track pushed the race off the Saturday card hoping to entice at least one more horse and Baffert stepped up.
For most - he is the story - as he has been for most of the past two months since Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby. We all know what happened next, the three-year-old failed a post-race drugs test, Bob Baffert went on FOX and called the whole situation ‘Cancel Culture’ and turned a sports issue into a political one.
Medina Spirit did go to Pimlico for the Preakness but failed to secure the second leg of the Triple Crown. Churchill Downs suspended him from entering horses for two years, NYRA reciprocated that agreement and top horses are being taken away by connections so that they can ride in big races at Saratoga.
This leaves Baffert with few options for his big name horses. Monmouth Park is still available for the Haskell and of course tracks in California are still open for him. No surprise then that two of his better three-year-olds have been entered here and are the two choices on the Morning Line.
Defunded (#3) is the top choice. Second last time out to The Chosen Vron in the Grade III Affirmed. He was considered a potential late Triple Crown horse before a slightly disappointing fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. He did go to Churchill Downs and finished fourth in the Pat Day on the under card. Not sure he has a big future but the competition here is not that great and his biggest opposition will be his stablemate who might struggle with the distance.
Classier (#1) missed the first half of 2021 with a minor setback following an eighth place finish at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back in November. He had a good enough trip in the Affirmed but was well beaten into third. You could argue that he was just knocking off the rust but I’m not sure he has a mile plus in his legs.
This Los Alamitos Derby is not attracting top talent and when the third choice Ingest (#5) is considered better on turf than he is on dirt, yet his connections have entered him anyway due to the small field and the decent purse on offer - that says everything.
If this race is going to be one that attracts top three-year-olds like some other races at smaller tracks have done recently then they need to do something different.
Back to the betting angle, I’m not sure you’d want to play any of the other three entries on any multi-race tickets. I’d single up Defunded but if you want to be safe - throw Classier in with him.