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Friday, February 18, 2005

Baffert Sorts Out Derby Picture

- Bob Baffert, whose main Derby hopeful Roman Ruler is troubled with physical problems, has once again been handed a potential plum in Whirlaway winner Sort It Out (Out of Place). Baffert won the 2002 Derby with War Emblem, who had been purchased by the late prince Ahmed Salman and handed over to Baffert after winning the Illinois Derby. That was just three weeks before the Derby. This time, Stonerside Stable is the purchaser. Baffert:

"The Whirlaway was a tough, tough race. He made a big three-eighths of a mile move, and then Naughty New Yorker, another horse I really like, came to him and looked like he was going to blow by him. But he wouldn't let him go by him. I really liked that about this horse.

"Distance is not going to be a problem. His breeding is good, and he's been running some decent numbers and is improving at the right time, and that's what you're looking for. [Bloodhorse]

- A light weekend for Derby preps, with the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn the only action of significance. Greater Good (Intidab) will be the favorite in his 3 yo debut. As a two time graded stakes winner, he far outclasses a field of six. His Beyers have improved with each start and peaked at 91 when he won the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill last November, his last start, defeating Rush Bay, who disappointed in the Risen Star. Trainer Bob Holthus on Greater Good:
"I'd say the mile is not his cup of tea, but hopefully he'll be able to overcome it,.....We've got to start somewhere." [Daily Racing Form]
Sounds like a guy looking down the road, as he should be. His colt lags far behind and there won't be much of a stretch at Oaklawn; the finish line is at the sixteenth pole for mile races there. It wouldn’t make sense for jockey John McKee to abuse the colt to get him under the wire first. Having said that, I think he is so far the class that I doubt I’d bet against him. But if I change my mind, Holthus also has COPY MY NOTES (Souvenir Copy) making his first start at 3; he improved with the addition of blinkers in his last, winning a NW1 allowance with an impressive 88 Beyer. MUNIFICENCE (Allen’s Prospect) has two dominating wins in his last two at Delta Downs, both two-turn sprint distances on the small Delta track; can lead or stalk, and had a quick 5f work for this.

- Lauren Stitch of the Daily Racing Form says that Greater Good’s closing style and Derby aspirations are not supported by his pedigree.
Greater Good is running in the opposite manner of what his speed-oriented pedigree suggests. He is by Intidab (a son of Phone Trick out of a Mr. Prospector mare), and his dam, Gather Clan, is by General Assembly out of champion sprinter What a Summer (What Luck). Greater Good has already won twice at 1 1/16 miles, rallying from far off the pace in both the Kentucky Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. While General Assembly adds a much-needed boost of stamina, it would be shocking if a son of Intidab would be at his best at 1 1/4 miles. [Daily Racing Form]