ARCADIA, CA – How deep is Bob Baffert’s Derby bench? There’s no telling, as his unraced Charlatan, an imposing chestnut colt by Speightstown, blew away his competition by 5 ¾ lengths in Sunday’s fourth race at Santa Anita, stopping the clock for six furlongs in a torrid 1:08.85 while geared down under Drayden Van Dyke.
Breaking from the outside in a field of four, Charlatan was away a step slowly, but was into contention instantaneously, making the lead at the five furlong pole and he maintained a one length advantage over Shooters Shoot going to the three furlong pole, while 3-5 favorite Lane Way was in tight quarters at the rail. Approaching the quarter pole, Charlatan held a 1 ½ length lead and he widened through the lane while well within himself.
“I gigged him just a little after the break, just to get him into the race,” said Van Dyke. “I really didn’t know that much about him. You could see he had a couple bullet works from the gate and that he’d been training well. He blew by those horses so easy and as you could see, he galloped out big.”
Off as the second choice at even money, Charlatan, who is out of the Quiet American mare Authenticity and sold for $700,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, paid $4.40 and $3.00.
With Baffert’s Derby lineup including the likes of Nadal, Thousand Words, Authentic, Eight Rings and Azul Coast, Charlatan is now poised to join them on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
“This race gives us great hope,” said Bob Liewald, on behalf of part owners Starlight Racing, which was also a part owner of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, who perhaps not so coincidentally, broke his maiden at first asking on Feb. 18, 2018. “The (final) time on this racetrack, was pretty good. The next race, we’ll have to step up in a bigger field and see what happens.”
Charlatan’s complete ownership line also includes SF Racing, LLC, Madaket Stables, LLC, Stonestreet Stables, LLC, Frederick Hertrich, III, John D. Fielding and Golconda Stables.
Baffert, who will be seeking a record-equaling sixth Kentucky Derby win this year, did not saddle Charlatan, as he had a prior commitment according to his assistant Jimmy Barnes.
Shooters Shoot, a 9-1 longshot with Abel Cedillo up, held second by 7 ¼ lengths over Lane Way, who was shuffled back a bit going to the far turn and didn’t threaten thereafter.
On Monday, Baffery was asked about his read on his three-year-old crop to date.
“You know what? Right now, I’m still not talking about it too much,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out where I’m going to run them. Everybody keeps asking me every day, ‘What are you going to do?’ I know what I’m going to do, but only I know.
“Things change and I don’t want to jinx them.”
Fractions on the race were 21.89, 44.72 and 56.52. According to DRF’s Brad Free, Charlatan earned a 105 Beyer for the win. For comparison, Justify earned 104 Beyer on his career debut.