ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — It's proving time for 3-year-olds in the barn of trainer Bob Baffert.
The next four months will weed out the best of the bunch as the calendar moves closer to May and the start of the Triple Crown series.
“See what you have, see what they like to do,” Baffert said. “You learn from the races and hope they stay healthy. That’s the main thing.”
Reincarnate put his name on the top of the heap for now, winning the $100,000 Sham Stakes by a neck on Sunday for Baffert, who completed a 1-2-3 sweep at Santa Anita.
Baffert has won the Sham in seven of the last 10 years.
Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Reincarnate ran 1 mile in 1:35.87 under overcast skies.
Sent off at 16-1 odds in the field of five, Reincarnate paid $35 to win, an unusually high price for a Baffert-trained horse.
Newgate was second, while 3-5 favorite National Treasure was another three-quarters of a length back in third. National Treasure was making his first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland in November.
“He never could get him in a comfortable spot,” Baffert said of jockey John Velazquez aboard National Treasure. “We just got to work on him, get him a little bit relaxed, chill him out a little bit.”
Reincarnate broke sharply and went to the lead, where he ran for much of the race.
“Once I saw that horse turning for home, he’s a stayer, he doesn’t get tired,” Baffert said.
“He’s my Belmont horse,” the trainer joked, referring to the Triple Crown race's 1 1/2-mile distance.
Reincarnate dueled with Newgate while holding a scant lead through the final furlongs before hanging on at the finish.
“I saw myself in front, so I just let him run,” Hernandez said. “When he got the lead, he tried to wait for company, but when he saw the other horse come to me, he saw him and fought back.”
Baffert's other entry, Speed Boat Beach, was scratched because the trainer said he wasn't quite ready for the race. The colt was the 5-2 co-second choice on the morning line. Baffert said Speed Boat Beach would likely be pointed toward the $200,000 San Vicente on Jan. 29.
Packs a Wahlop was fourth and earned two Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Spun Intended was pulled up in front of the grandstand by jockey Mike Smith and vanned off. Trainer Mark Glatt said the horse was OK.
Baffert's three entries didn't earn any Derby qualifying points because he's been banned until after this year's Derby by Churchill Downs Inc. because of repeated medication violations.
Earlier Sunday, Ice Dancing won the $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3 1/4 lengths and earned 20 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks on May 5.
Baffert's fillies, Fast and Shiny, Parody and Huntingcoco, finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. But they were denied the six, four and two Oaks qualifying points for their results because of Baffert's ban.
His ban at CDI-owned tracks runs from June 2021 until after this year's Kentucky Derby.
In December, Baffert's lawyers re-filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against CDI in an effort to allow him to enter horses in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. They initially sought an injunction in February 2022, but it was withdrawn when Baffert began serving a 90-day suspension from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
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