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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Grade 1 winner Eight Rings is scheduled to make his long-awaited 2020 debut this Saturday in the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint at Oaklawn Park for 3-year-olds.
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Eight Rings debuted last August to great aplomb, breaking his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at Del Mar, but an errant beginning in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) next time out saw him duck in sharply toward the rail and dump his jockey. He rebounded to win the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, but then he was a disappointing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to end 2019.
After taking time away from the track to grow and develop, Eight Rings began a steady string of workouts in early March and most recently fired a bullet best-of-29 5-furlong move in :59.00 while covering the local strip for the first time.
“(Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes) said he’s doing great,” Baffert said. “The horse, he’s happy, his mind’s right. His mind wasn’t right for the Breeders’ Cup. We expect a big run from him. If he gets away clean, he should be really tough.”
Evera threat when he travels to Hot Springs, Baffert has five wins from nine starters at Oaklawn Park through Wednesday.
Here is the full field for this Saturday’s Bachelor:
1. Little Menace (4/1) – One of two entries from top trainer Steve Asmussen, he broke his maiden by almost 8 lengths in his second career start, then followed that with a game victory by a head here on February 2. He was never close to defeating a rival who he will face again here while running second in the local Gazebo Stakes, but with improvement, he is a threat.
2. Beau Oxy (20/1) – This gelded son of the 2013 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Oxbow made his first start for trainer McLean Robertson in the Gazebo last time out and was a well-beaten fourth. He won his first two starts on dirt, including a match race at Fair Grounds on February 8 that he clinched by over 14 lengths.
3. Echo Town (9/2) – The second Asmussen entry has won two of his three career starts, all over this same course and distance. His lone defeat was his first time facing winners and came to a common rival in this race, but he rebounded to win his last effort by almost 4 lengths. He recently fired a bullet 5-furlong work in :59.00 here on April 13.
4. Ginobili (6/1) – He is inconsistent, but at his best, this Richard Baltas trainee can run with anyone in the crop. He broke his maiden over Kentucky Derby (G1) prospect Honor A. P. last August and lost the San Vicente Stakes (G2) by less than a length. That race’s winner, Nadal, won the Rebel Stakes (G2) here last month and should be favored in next week’s Arkansas Derby (G1). The only question is, which Ginobili will we see?
5. Lykan (8/1) – This Ingrid Mason trainee ran a career-best effort two back over this course and distance, defeating Echo Town by a length. He failed to make the same impact last time out in the Gazebo, finishing a well-beaten third behind two of his rivals here, but he has twice pulled off 20/1 upsets, so a return to his effort two back could result in a major payout.
6. Liam’s Pride (20/1) – He was third behind a pair of up-and-comers three races back over this coure and distance, then stylishly broke his maiden next time out. His most recent effort was an uninspiring fourth against allowance/optional claiming foes, but he may have not liked the muddy surface that day. Expect improvement if he catches a fast track on Saturday.
7. Eight Rings (7/2) – The morning line favorite has fired four bullets in his past six workouts and attracted the services of Joel Rosario, one of the nation’s top riders. He has never been higher than 3/2 odds at post time, so those looking to bet him here will likely need to do so at a small price.
8. Sir Rick (30/1) – Trainer Robertino Diodoro is adding blinkers to this Rick Davis homebred after he was last of 13 in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Stakes in his most recent effort. One race prior, he was a 4-length victor in the 1 1/16-mile Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park. He also won twice at the 5-furlong distance at age 2, the latter from off the pace.
9. Long Weekend (3/1) – This ultra-speedy son of Majesticperfection has wired the field in three of his four career starts, all going one turn. He also soundly defeated Little Menace and Lykan in the Gazebo here last time out, but this is a tougher field with more pace signed on, so he will have to bring his A-game.
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