Spielberg Snatches Victory From Jaws Of Defeat, Gives Baffert Seventh Consecutive Los Alamitos Futurity

Trainer Bob Baffert ran his winning streak to seven in the Los Alamitos Futurity on Saturday, but it wasn’t easy.

Spielberg, a $1-million yearling purchase by Union Rags, needed every inch of the 1 1/16 miles of the Grade 2 race at the Cypress, Calif., track to catch the front-running 30-1 long shot The Great One, but jockey Flavien Prat got him up in the final jump. The victory was the 13th in the Futurity for the Hall of Fame trainer since Real Quiet won in 1997, when the race was run at Hollywood Park. The Inglewood, Calif., track ran its last race in 2013 and is now the site of an NFL football stadium.

Spielberg ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.56. The Great One held second, with Petruchio a distant third and 4-5 favorite Red Flag fourth in the field of six 2-year-old colts and geldings. Weston and Positivity completed the order of finish.

Spielberg paid $5.80 as the second choice in the wagering.

In addition to the $120,000 earned for the win, Spielberg earns 10 qualifying points for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The second- through fourth-place finishers get 4, 2, and 1 point, respectively. None of the six starters raced on Lasix, a new requirement set by Churchill Downs for horses to be eligible for Derby points.

Updated Kentucky Derby points leaderboard.

Spielberg is owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm LLC and Robert Masterson. Out of the Smart Strike mare Miss Squeal, Spielberg was bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and purchased at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the consignment of Lane’s End, which stands Union Rags.

The Great One, a Nyquist colt who came into the Futurity winless in three starts, went straight to the lead under Abel Cedillo and carved out fractions of :23.01 for the opening quarter mile, :47.76 for the half, and 1:10.66 for six furlongs. Red Flag raced along the rail as Weston chased the front runner from in between horses, and Spielberg was kept clear on the outside.

Into the far turn, Red Flag failed to enter contention as Spielberg began to make his bid and Weston, who was making his first start around two turns, faltered.

The Great One clung to the lead into the long Los Alamitos stretch, passing the mile marker in 1:35.81 and still in front. But Spielberg was eating into the margin as The Great One began to shorten stride and was just up in a desperate finish.

The victory was the second in six starts for Spielberg, who ran second to Dr. Schivel twice at Del Mar in an Aug. 8 maiden race and the Sept. 7 G1 Del Mar Futurity. He was still a maiden when third behind Get Her Number at Santa Anita in the G1 American Pharoah Stakes on Sept. 26, then defeated maidens at Del Mar Nov. 2, edging the highly regarded Parnelli by a neck. He came out of a fourth-place finish Nov. 15 going seven furlongs at Del Mar in the G3 Bob Hope Stakes. Red Flag won by 7 1/4 lengths for trainer John Shirreffs.

“I’d never ridden him before, but (trainer) Bob (Baffert) told me he was doing great,” said Prat. “The outside was a good draw for him. He broke well and was able to relax. I thought we had it all the way down the stretch but it was close.”

“That horse (runner-up The Great One) was tough to get by,” said Baffert. “We needed every bit of that stretch and we were fortunate to get there. I didn’t know if I was going to run him here and I didn’t decide until after he worked well this week (six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 Dec. 13 at Santa Anita). I knew he was going to run well because he had shipped well over here and he was really on it in the paddock. I’m just happy for everybody in the ownership group.

“Now we can start thinking (Kentucky) Derby,” Baffert continued. “It starts here for us. I thought it was an easy spot last time (fourth as the 3-5 favorite in the Bob Hope) and he didn’t ship well. He got nervous when he got in the stall there and was just flat. We ran him back too quick. I asked Prat if there’s more there and he said there’s a lot more. I think he’ll get better with maturity. He’s a beautiful horse.”

Of Baffert’s 13 winners of the Futurity, only Real Quiet, the 1997 winner, would go on to win the G1 Kentucky Derby.

Racing resumes Sunday at Los Alamitos. Post time for closing day of the LACF Winter meet is 12 noon Pacific.

The final stakes of the meet is the $100,000 King Glorious. The race at one mile is restricted to 2-year-olds bred or sired in California. It is the ninth of 10 races and has a scheduled post time of 3:58 p.m.


The post Spielberg Snatches Victory From Jaws Of Defeat, Gives Baffert Seventh Consecutive Los Alamitos Futurity appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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