A $925,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training last year, Brigand registered his first stakes win.
Baffert, who has saddled five Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winners during his Hall of Fame career, had never had a runner at Laurel Park before.
Kaleem Shah's New York-bred covered the seven-furlong distance in 1:23.08 over a fast track and paid $5.60 as the second betting choice with Abel Castellano Jr. aboard.
"Bob chose this spot," said Shah, who lives in nearby Vienna, Va. "He told me this was a good spot. He thought he would win and that was good enough for me."
A son of Flatter who had placed in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III), the Jerome (gr. II), and the Mike Lee Stakes, Brigand was winning for the fourth time in 12 outings. The win boosted his career earnings to $288,820.
Five 3-year-olds lined up for the seven-furlong City of Laurel. Brigand pushed to the front within a few strides of the start and raced comfortably on the lead down the backstretch. Service for Ten, Bellefire, and Javerre took up the chase after quarter-mile fractions of :23.41 and :46.74.
But Brigand, nudged along by Castellano, opened a three-length advantage in the lane after putting away Service for Ten in upper stretch.
"The instructions were to break good, not hustle too much, and let him do his own thing," Castellano said. "We were pressured the whole backside but he relaxed. When we got to the half mile pole he changed the lead, he got relaxed and comfortable, he was going good, and I knew I was going to have the horse left. That is a nice horse."
Brigand finished under a hold in deep stretch while defeating Bellefire, who rallied for second by one length over Javerre. Service for Ten faded to fourth while Hardened Wildcat, the slight 9-5 choice over Brigand, trailed throughout.