Baptize Earns First Graded Stakes Win in First Leg of Mid-America Triple

Kept close to a moderate pace by jockey Mark Guidry, Baptize rallied while three wide en route to a 2 1/4-length victory over Indygo Shiner in Saturday's $200,000 Arlington Classic (gr. IIT) at Arlington Park. The win in the opening leg of Arlinton's Mid-America Triple series marks the first in a graded stakes race for Baptize. The winner completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.80 on firm turf.

"I had a lot of horse," said Guidry. "I was just skating out there. I waited until we turned into the lane and asked him. He accelerated real nice."

Baptize almost didn't make the race, though. "On entry day he had a little cough and some discharge from his nose," explained Ralph Nicks, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott. "We trained him yesterday morning and scoped him. He came up clean and ate up so we decided to go."

The win marks his second in a stakes this year. In April, the 3-year-old son of Dynaformer beat Dynameaux by a length in Keeneland's Transylvania Stakes. Since then, Baptize finished a close second in the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) and a well-beaten third in the Diamond A -- USA Stakes. Baptize earned owners Gary and Mary West $120,000 for the win, his fifth in nine career starts.

Indygo Shiner finished a neck ahead of Cherokee Kim, who was a head in front of fourth-place Fan Club's Mister. Rahy's Secret and Curlew Flyer completed the order of finish.

The 11-10 betting favorite, Baptize returned $4.20, $2.40, and $2.40. Indygo Shiner paid $3 and $2.60. Cherokee Kim was worth $3 to show. The exacta returned $12. (Chart, Equibase)