CYPRESS, Calif. – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert made it consecutive victories in the Grade I, $350,500 Los Alamitos Futurity when favored Mor Spirit ran down Toews On Ice Saturday at Los Alamitos.
The win was his record eighth in the race formerly called the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013) when it was offered at the now-closed Hollywood Park, but Baffert did something in 2015 he had never done previously in the prestigious race for 2-year-olds.
Baffert finished 1-2.
Rebounding from a loss as the 2-1 favorite over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in the Grade II Kentucky Joc key Club three weeks earlier, Mor Spirit, who was sixth of eight after the opening six furlongs, prevailed by 1 ¼ lengths as the 7-10 favorite while Toews On Ice, the 5-2 second choice, finished a half-dozen lengths clear of the rest of the field.
“Turning for home it was a good feeling,’’ said Baffert, who won the inaugural Futurity run at Los Alamitos last year with Dortmund. “I knew I was going to win the race, just didn’t know with which one.’’
Owned by Michael Lund Petersen and ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, Mor Spirit, a son of Eskendereya and the Dixie Union mare Im a Dixie Girl, got the waiting ride he seems to prefer and responded with his second victory in four starts.
In pushing his earnings to $288,400, the Pennsylvania bred completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.54. Favored in each of his starts, Mor Spirit paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
“In the race at Churchill Downs I didn’t want to take a chance of taking him back and getting mud kicked in his face, so we sent him up in there (to be part of the pace).,’’ said Baffert. “ I just told Gary today ride him like you usually do and let him sit and finish.
“This is the time of the year when you want to see something like this. It was a little disappointing he got beat last time, but it looks like we’ve got him figured out, so now we can just sit back and pick some spots for him.’’
Seeking his fourth consecutive win in his first venture beyond seven furlongs, Toews On Ice tracked surprising pacesetter Frank Conversation for most of the journey, took over from that 28-1 shot early in the stretch, but couldn’t contain his stablemate.
Named in honor of Jonathan Toews, one of the stars of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Toews On Ice returned $3.20 and $2.60.
“He ran game,’’ said Baffert. “The race shaped up different than I thought it would with (Frank Conversation) showing speed, but (jockey) Martin (Garcia) didn’t panic and just sat there. He rode a good race. He just got run down by a good horse.’’
The Futurity victory was Baffert’s ninth thoroughbred stakes win at Los Alamitos, making him the all-time leader. His total includes the Orange County Fair meets (1977-1991).
This was Stevens’ second Futurity win – both in tandem with Baffert – as he had scored previously with Point Given in 2000.
“I’m super excited about this colt,’’ said Stevens. “The way the race looked like it might set up, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we were sitting last early. He’s very intelligent and settled nicely for me.
“I just let him gallop until the eighth pole. He’s really progressed since his first start and he’s going to get better and better with more experience and distance.’’
I’malreadythere, a 25-1 shot trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, finished a distant third, returning $3.80 to show.
Urlacher, Frank Conversation, Hollywood Don, the 5-1 third choice, and Sorryaboutnothing completed the order of finish.
Racing resumes Sunday at Los Alamitos. Post time for closing day of the Winter Thoroughbred meet is 12:30 p.m.
There will be a holiday ornament giveaway – one per paid admission while supplies last. The ornament features a likeness of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Source: Los Alamitos Race Course