Fast Times At Churchill; Baffert Track Record

Fast Times At Churchill; Baffert Track Record
Photo: Mike Corrado
Love at Noon, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens, set a new track record to win the first race at Churchill Downs on Derby day.
The race trainer Bob Baffert wants to win Saturday at Churchill Downs is the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He saddles the favorite, Point Given, as well as possible second-choice Congaree.

Baffert got the day off to a good start, winning the first race on the card when his filly Love At Noon ran her record to two-for-two in a track record setting performance.

Wrestling the lead before a half mile had been run in the 6 1/2-furlong allowance event, Love At Noon and jockey Gary Stevens hit the wire in 1:14.34. The old mark was 1:15.11 set by Bet on Sunshine last summer. Ironically, Bet On Sunshine ran in the second race on the Derby Day card, finishing second in his 9-year-old debut to Lake Pontchartrain.

Love At Noon, by Afternoon Deelites--Lemhi Love, by Royal and Regal, ran six furlongs in 1:08.16. She is owned by Mike Pegram.

Lake Pontchartrain ran six furlongs in 1:08.35. Owned by Sanford Goldfarb and trained by Dick Dutrow, he was ridden by John Velazquez

A bit of a haze hangs over Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., as the racing world prepares for the 12th Derby. The temperature is climbing past the 80-degree mark in a state that has had very little rain lately and is over seven inches behind for the year.

Every year, the Churchill Downs strip seems to get faster as Derby week progresses, and this year appears no different. With plenty of early speed in the Derby, a legitimate pace is practically assured. Favored Point Given, who likes to sit off the pace, has the outside post in the 17-horse field, which should allow him plenty of time to find a spot behind the front runners.

Friday's Kentucky Oaks crowed was the second largest Oaks attendance in history. With temperatures a bit cooler Saturday than Friday, a large on-track group is expected. The infield actually seemed to fill up earlier on Friday than Saturday.

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