Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram took their show on the road to Prairie Meadows Monday evening, signing autographs and playing before an enthusiastic crowd. Their Captain Steve kept his end of the bargain, winning the $250,000 Iowa Derby at 1-5.
Captain Steve, winless in 2000 and making his first start since finishing fourth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in May, stalked the early pace set by local hope Bravo Bull, made a solid bid turning for home and won by 1 3/4 lengths over a closing Miner's Prize. Bet On Red, who trailed the field early, rallied for third.
"If I'm going to get beat on the road, I want to get beat on the lead," were Baffert's instructions to jockey Shane Sellers, and Sellers did as he was told, tracking the frontrunner through splits of :22.98, :46.44, and 1:10.94. Final time for the 1 1/16 mile race was 1:42.35, a new stakes record.
It marked the fourth straight Iowa Festival of Racing stakes to be won by a Churchill Downs-based horse. Bourbon Belle, Trip, and Ruby Surprise had all been short-priced winners over the holiday weekend. Captain Steve paid $2.60 and the exacta with Miner's Prize, another Churchill-based horse trained by Forrest Kaelin, returned $19.40. Baffert hinted that the Swaps Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park, or the $1-million Haskell (gr. I) at Monmouth Park would be next for Captain Steve.