Wanna Runner Arrives for Lone Star Derby

(from Lone Star Park notes)
Wanna Runner, the Bob Baffert-trained winner of last month's rich WinStar Derby at Sunland Park, arrived at Lone Star Park Wednesday morning in anticipation of Saturday's $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III).

Owner Mike Pegram's 3-year-old Ontario-bred gelding is continuing on a path that Baffert expects will lead to the first leg of Canada's Triple Crown, the $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine on June 25.

"He could have run in the Preakness but we're pointing to the Queen's Plate," Baffert said. "I like him a lot. I think he's improving and he has a lot of talent."

Wanna Runner won the $600,000 WinStar Derby by 4 ¾ lengths as the odds-on favorite in his first start since January. Earlier this year the son of El Corredor finished third in the San Rafael (gr. II) at Santa Anita behind top 3-year-olds Brother Derek and Stevie Wonderboy.

Baffert said that although he and Pegram believe Wanna Runner could run for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the large purses available in Southwest and Midwest derbies are too good to pass up.

"Mike and I thought we'd take the 'dirt road derby' trail to the Queen's Plate," Baffert quipped. "You know, Mike loves coming to Lone Star and so do I."

Baffert and Pegram already won Lone Star's first graded stakes of the season, last month's $300,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) with Preachinatthebar. Pegram has been the winning owner or co-owner in five Lone Star stakes races. Baffert has trained 11 Lone Star stakes winners.

Victor Espinoza, the second leading rider at Santa Anita Park in 2005-06 and twice a Lone Star stakes winner, has the mount on Wanna Runner.

Wanna Runner has had two six-furlong workouts at Santa Anita since the WinStar Derby, traveling in a bullet 1:12 4/5 handily on May 1, and 1:13 3/5 handily on Monday. Asked to comment on the quality of the works, Baffert replied, "He's ready, I can tell you that."

Baffert said he will attend Saturday's race and is scheduled to arrive in Dallas on Friday. Entries for 1 1/16-mile event will be taken Thursday.