Baffert Starts Triple Crown Run With Spensive

(from track report)
Trainer Bob Baffert, who begins the 2003 Triple Crown campaign looking for his fourth Kentucky Derby winner, will send out Spensive Saturday in the $100,000 Golden Gate Derby (gr. III).

The winner of the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate as a heavy favorite on Dec. 14, Spensive will not have Julie Krone in the irons this time. Another Hall of Famer, Russell Baze, replaces her on the grey colt Saturday.

The Golden Gate Derby produced a Kentucky Derby winner in 1998 when the Baffert-trained Real Quiet rebounded from a last-place finish in the Golden Gate Derby – the colt couldn't handle a sloppy racetrack – and went on to capture the 124th running of the Run For The Roses.

Real Quiet gave Baffert back-to-back scores in the Kentucky Derby. He won the 1997 running with Silver Charm. Last year, Baffert completed a Kentucky Derby hat trick with War Emblem.

Baffert will be trying to win the Golden Gate Derby for the second consecutive year after Danthebluegrassman won it in 2002.

Spensive won the one-mile Gold Rush by a head over Always Remember in a very game effort. A Florida-bred colt by Ponche, Spensive battled back after being passed in midstretch to earn a tough victory on a sloppy racetrack.

Spensive, owned by Watson and Weitman Performance LLC, has won two of his five career starts and $97,311.

Eleven 3-year-olds were entered for the 15th running of the Golden Gate Derby.

Morning-line favorite Ozzie Cat is trained by D. Wayne Lukas and owned by Overbrook Farm. A Kentucky-bred colt by Storm Cat, Ozzie Cat won a seven-furlong maiden allowance race at Keeneland by 5 1/4 lengths in October and most recently he finished a close third in a 1 1/16-miles allowance race at Santa Anita on Dec. 28.

Always Remember nearly pulled off a 25-1 stunner in the Gold Rush Stakes when he rallied from last to gain the lead in midstretch. However, he couldn't hold off a late surge by Spensive and had to settle for second. Art Sherman trains always Remember.

Buddy Gil was very impressive in winning the six-furlong Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 24 but then disappointed in the Gold Rush Stakes when he finished fifth after getting involved in an early speed duel. Chuck Jenda trains Buddy Gil.

Taliano, trained by Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, won the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Park last summer and finished fourth in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) on Nov. 23. Van Berg won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1987 with Alysheba.

Pine For Java has only one win in 11 starts, however, he finished second to Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Vindication in an allowance/optional claiming race at Del Mar last summer. Standard Setter finished second in a pair of sprint stakes last year and will make his first start around two turns Saturday.

Rapier Dance hails from the barn of leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and the colt is coming off a victory in a one-mile maiden allowance race at Golden Gate on Dec. 19. Yozo, a maiden, finished second (beaten a length) to Rapier Dance.

$100,000 Golden Gate Derby (gr. III), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Rider, ML Odds
1. Standard Setter, Roberto Gonzalez, 10-1
2. Buddy Gil, Kevin Krigger, 6-1
3. Quietly Quick, Alfredo Miranda, 20-1
4. Pine For Java, Frank Alvarado, 8-1
5. Ozzie Cat, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 5-2;
6. Tactical Strike, Joey Castro, 12-1
7. Yozo, Francisco Duran, 30-1
8. Taliano, Adalberto Lopez, 12-1
9. Spensive, Russell Baze, 7-2
10. Always Remember, Chad Schvaneveldt, 6-1;
11. Rapier Dance, Ron Warren, Jr., 15-1

All of the starters will carry 120 pounds.