Kaleem Shah's favored Can the Man took the early lead and never was seriously threatened en route to a wire-to-wire victory in the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park June 7 (VIDEO).
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, Can the Man is by Into Mischief out of the Danzig mare Smolensk. He was bred in Kentucky by Malibu Farm and sold for $320,000 at the Barretts May 2-year-olds in training and horses of racing age sale in 2013.
"This was sort of a tough spot to go in coming off the layoff and having to go two turns," said Baffert. "He’s a classy horse. We should have a lot of fun with him from here on out."
Baffert said there was “a good chance” Can the Man would resurface in the $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II) July 5. In addition to Can the Man, Baffert and Shah teamed to win the $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational (gr. II) at Belmont Park on Saturday with Bayern, who Baffert noted, is also nominated to the Los Alamitos Derby.
Can the Man set fractions of :24.28 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.83 for a half-mile, and 1:12.56 for six furlongs while under no serious pressure. The colt opened up a bit turning for home and covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.27 after covering one mile in 1:37.46 on a fast track.
"He's been working really good and we were hoping he'd be ready," said Garcia, who had ridden Can the Man in all four of his previous starts. "He's a fast horse and he's more mature now with the time off. He's a really good horse."
Frensham and Arkenstone sat just off the leader through the first six furlongs and then gave way to the rallying Forever Juanito, who was clearly second until Friendswith K Mill passed him late. Can the Man won by 1 1/4 lengths; Friendswith K Mill finished a head in front of Forever Juanito.
Can the Man paid $5.80, $3.60, and $3 as th 9-5 pick. Friendswith K Mill returned $3.80 and $2.80, while Forever Juanito paid $3.60. The $1 exacta paid $10 and the $1 trifecta was worth $56.70.
Can the Man, who now has five starts, had not raced since mid-October 2013 when he won the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita. Earlier he finished fourth in the FrontRunner Stakes and third in the Del Mar Futurity (both gr. I).