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Earls Rock Splits Rivals To Win Baffle
Credit: Ernie Belmonte

Earls Rock Splits Rivals To Win Baffle

ARCADIA, CA – Anthony Fanticola’s Earls Rock split his rivals in mid-stretch, then outkicked a game Beer Can Man to win Friday’s $75,000 Baffle Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

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Earls Rock broke from post 2 under Flavien Prat as the 4/5 favorite and settled well off the pace, heading the last third of the field while Exhalting held an early lead over his Doug O’Neill stablemate Mac Daddy Too.

Prat allowed Earls Rock to join the fray heading into the far turn and angled him toward the rail midway through so that he cut the corner and took flight at the top of the stretch.

Running between Mac Daddy Too and an outside-rallying Beer Can Man, Earls Rock took command a furlong out and gradually pulled ahead of Beer Can Man before crossing 3/4 of a length clear.

The Phil D’Amato trainee completed the 6 1/2-furlong firm turf sprint in 1:16.15.

Credit: Ernie Belmonte

“The distance was a bit of a question mark, it was a little short for him,” Prat said. “But he relaxed well behind horses, and when I asked him to go, he really cut.”

Mac Daddy Too faded late to finish 3 1/4 lengths behind but still saved third by 1 1/4 lengths over Harlan Estate.

Sword ZorroCommander KhaiWestonGator Shining, and Exhalting completed the order of finish.

Following the race, the stewards conducted an inquiry into a possible incident near the 1/4 pole between Earls Rock and Weston, which may have been why the latter horse had to steady. However, the stewards determined unanimously that the video replay was inconclusive and made no changes.

Earls Rock’s win followed an impressive North American racing debut, a 1-mile route over this lawn on January 9 in his first start for D’Amato and Fanticola. The Irish-bred Fascinating Rock colt began his career overseas, finishing second in a 7-furlong turf sprint over soft ground last September.

“This is about as short as he wants,” D’Amato said. “The jock rode a tremendous race. He was very patient and the way he split horses, it made all the difference.”

Earls Rock returned $3.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.60 to show. Beer Can Man brought back $5 to place and $3.60 to show, while Mac Daddy Too paid $5.40 to show.

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