CYPRESS, CA – Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman’s Uncle Chuck gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his fourth straight edition – and tenth overall – of Saturday’s $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G3).
Uncle Chuck was made the strong 2/5 favorite in the field of four, and from the gate, Luis Saez kept him piloted wide while stalking Great Power.
Moving up to take the lead midway through the far turn, Uncle Chuck was let loose at the top of the stretch.
Though he drifted toward the inside as he passed the 1/8 pole, then switched to his wrong lead at the 1/16 pole, Uncle Chuck was still much the best. He completed the 1 1/8-mile fast main track event in a final time of 1:47.65.
“He broke great and I just left him alone,” said Saez, who flew into town for the mount because Mike Smith was in New York. “He was doing it easy all the way. When I showed him the whip he took off. He’s a very nice colt.“
Fellow Baffert runner Thousand Words was 4 lengths back in second. Cosmo and a spent Great Power completed the order of finish. Anneau d’Or was scratched after coming up ill.
The Los Alamitos Derby is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Uncle Chuck earned 20 points for the win, with Thousand Words receiving 8 for second, Cosmo 4 for third, and Great Power 2 for fourth.
Uncle Chuck’s win was his second from as many starts, having won his debut in a mile-long maiden special weight at Santa Anita Park on June 12. The 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt will reportedly ship to Del Mar and train there for his next start.
“At the top of the lane, I thought Thousand Words might get him, but at least he ran better,” Baffert said. “We’re just learning more about Uncle Chuck. He’s still pretty green, but he’s got gears. Luis was excited about him and I think he’s one of the top riders in the country. He said (Uncle Chuck) is still learning and he’s got a lot of improvement in him. He was full of himself when he came back. It’s exciting. He’s learning quickly and he has brilliance. I was impressed. I think we just saw something pretty special and he’s been special from day one. He’s bred to be any kind.”
Uncle Chuck returned $2.80 to win. There was no place or show betting.