Pat Valenzuela May Ride Kafwain
Photo: Benoit photos
Pat Valenzuela, may be new jockey for Kafwain.
The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Kafwain may have a new rider when he heads postward in the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).

After earlier saying he was not considering a change in jockey for his prime 3-year-old Kentucky Derby candidate, trainer Bob Baffert said he has offered the mount to Patrick Valenzuela, who was aboard the colt for a five-furlong work (in :59 1/5) on Wednesday. Valenzuela is the leading rider by double-digits at the current Santa Anita meeting.

"He worked the horse and he was offered the mount," Baffert said of Valenzuela. "But he had some things to work out (another mount out of town on the same day) and was going to get back to me today, but hasn't so far. So I don't know for sure yet."

Baffert was critical of Victor Espinoza's ride on Kafwain in the March 9 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), where the son of Cherokee Run was a well-beaten second to Peace Rules. Baffert felt the jockey left Kafwain too far back in the early going of the race and was guilty of excessively whipping the colt. Baffert dismissed the idea of taking Espinoza off the colt for the Santa Anita Derby initially, but said he later decided it might be in Kafwain's best interest. The race would be Kafwain's final one before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 3.

Valenzuela was expected to be out of town Santa Anita Derby day to ride Elloluv in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. Baffert said Valenzuela was planning to ask Craig Dollase to let him out of his commitment.

"At this point, the (Santa Anita Derby) is a long way off, but we are starting to get going now," Baffert said. "Pat worked the horse and said he really liked him, but they all say they really like them when they work them, so I don't know. He worked nice, too. But it's not life or death (if Valenzuela rides Kafwain) and I suppose if Pat doesn't ride then Victor will be back on. It's all kind of up in the air right now."

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