Sometimes a trainer just tries not to get in the way of a good horse.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert knows a thing or two about that situation, and with 3-year-old Dortmund on the muscle these days, he's not going to hold him back.
"We just didn't want to keep him training for another month," Baffert said of Kaleem Shah's undefeated contender, who rolls into the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park March 7 on a four-race win streak on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The San Felipe awards points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers toward a spot in the 20-horse starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Dortmund currently ranks seventh on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 20 points.
Last time out, the son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown ran to a brilliant victory in the Feb. 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), fighting back on the inside after being passed by Firing Line to eke out the score by a head.
The 1 1/16-mile Lewis was Dortmund's first start of 2015. As a 2-year-old he broke his maiden by 4 3/4 lengths sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Nov. 2, shipped to Churchill Downs and aired by 7 3/4 lengths in a one-mile allowance Nov. 29, then won the Dec. 20 Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) by a head over Firing Line in his first try at the 1 1/16-mile distance.
For the San Felipe, also run at 1 1/16 miles, Dortmund draws post 3 as the 123-pound highweight of 10 and will have regular rider Martin Garcia in the irons.
Baffert also entered Peachtree Stable's Lord Nelson , winner of the Feb. 1 San Vincente Stakes (gr. II), going seven furlongs at Santa Anita last time out. The Pulpit colt will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from the inside carrying 118, and showed speed while winning the Oct. 13 Speakeasy Stakes over six furlongs at Santa Anita last year.
Lord Nelson tried the San Felipe distance Nov. 29 when he ran at Churchill in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II), finishing a troubled fifth as the favorite, after bobbling at the start and getting fanned seven wide. The San Vincente victory over Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) victor Texas Red was earned in his 2015 debut, after hopping at the start and closing gamely under urging to get up late.
Making his first start of the season, while looking to preserve an intact record is DP Racing's Ocho Ocho Ocho, winner of the Nov. 22 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. II) going 1 1/16 miles. Unbeaten in three starts in 2014, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense posted a six-furlong bullet Feb. 26 at Santa Anita for trainer Jim Cassidy, going the distance in in 1:12 flat.
Ocho Ocho Ocho breaks from post 2 with Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith in the irons while carrying 120 pounds. The remaining contenders are all assigned 118.
Another on a win streak is Pam and Martin Wygod's homebred Prospect Park, a son of Tapit , who took four tries to break his maiden, but did so Nov. 27 at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles before coming back Jan. 30 to roll by 5 1/4 lengths over one mile at the Southern California track.
That was the most recent start for the Cliff Sise Jr. trainee, who will leave the 6 hole with Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux aboard.
Trainer Richard Mandella, a two-time winner of the San Felipe (with Soul of the Matter in 1994 and Afternoon Deelites in 1995), will try again this year with Pain and Misery, a gelded son of Bob and John, who makes his first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.
"The timing is good," Mandella said. "He's ready to run and the San Felipe is the race that's there. We don't know if he's good enough for that, but we might as well find out. He trains like he might be."
Pain and Misery made his debut for Black Gold Racing at Del Mar last Aug. 24, finishing third before moving to Zia Park in New Mexico, where he won two straight for trainer Henry Dominguez, including the Governor's Cup at six furlongs. Sent to Mandella, he was beaten a neck in his debut for the Hall of Fame conditioner at odds of 10-1 in the restricted Baffle Stakes going about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf Feb. 15. Flavien Prat has the mount from the outside.
Also entered are Golden Pegasus Racing and Earle Mack's Eddie Logan Stakes winner Bolo for trainer Carla Gaines; Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams' homebred Pulmarack, second for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Cal Cup Derby last out Jan. 24; and Legacy Ranch and Shirley MacPherson's Sir Samson, third in the San Vincente in his last start for Brian Koriner.
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, March 07, 2015, Race 7
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Lord Nelson (KY) Rafael Bejarano 118 Bob Baffert - 2 2Ocho Ocho Ocho (KY) Mike E. Smith 120 James M. Cassidy - 3 3Dortmund (KY) Martin Garcia 123 Bob Baffert - 4 4The Gomper (KY) Tyler Baze 118 Ronald W. Ellis - 5 5Kenjisstorm (KY) Agapito Delgadillo 118 George Papaprodromou - 6 6Prospect Park (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 118 Clifford W. Sise, Jr. - 7 7Bolo (KY) Victor Espinoza 118 Carla Gaines - 8 8Pulmarack (CA) Drayden Van Dyke 118 Jerry Hollendorfer - 9 9Sir Samson (KY) Joseph Talamo 118 Brian J. Koriner - 10 10Pain and Misery (KY) Flavien Prat 118 Richard E. Mandella -
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, March 07, 2015, Race 7