Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Baffert goes for two wins

BALTIMORE — Preakness favorite Bodemeister isn't the only prominent 3-year-old Bob Baffert brought to Pimlico Race Course this week.

The Hall of Fame trainer is also looking for a victory today with unbeaten Mamma Kimbo in the Black-Eyed Susan, a Grade 2 race for 3-year-old fillies.

Today's card also includes the Pimlico Special, which returns after a three-year absence. The $300,000 Grade 3 race has a nine-horse field, including Alternation, who takes a three-race winning streak into the Special.

Mamma Kimbo won her racing debut in February and backed it up with a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes. Despite her inexperience, Mamma Kimbo is the 7-5 favorite in the 10-horse field.

"Mamma Kimbo is very fast," Baffert said. "She just goes and takes it as far as she can. Mile and an eighth, I'd feel better if it was a 1�, but she's fast and she's been training well, so we'll see."

The race is a day before Baffert saddles favorite Bodemeister in the Preakness.

"We treat every race as if it's a big race," he said. "We don't get too caught up in all the hoopla."

Fresh test: The Kentucky Derby is arguably the most stressful thoroughbred race in the United States, and horses in the field get only a two-week rest if they run in the Preakness. So it might seem logical that horses that didn't run in the Derby would have an advantage at Pimlico by being fresh. But history refutes that. In the past decade, 64 horses have started in the Preakness without racing in the Derby, and only two have won. The most recent was the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009, but she had raced in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby.

Bittersweet memories: A year ago Graham Motion was one of the most popular figures at Pimlico. As the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, he had the lone horse in the Preakness field with a shot at winning the Triple Crown. "The pressure is on you," said Motion, who will saddle Went the Day Well in this year's Preakness. "The two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness, I felt like I was holding my breath. You're kind of walking on eggshells, hoping everything is going great with the horse."

Animal Kingdom came in second, a half-length behind Shackleford. Motion can't get the outcome out of his mind. "I was quite shocked to see Shackleford's picture on the grandstand when I drove in (Thursday) morning. That was kind of a pit in my stomach," he said.

Went the Day Well was fourth in the Derby. He has won two of his four starts this year.

Weak job market: Mario Gutierrez has been on the phone constantly since winning the Kentucky Derby aboard I'll Have Another. Most of the messages he has gotten congratulate him on the win that lifted the jockey from Mexico out of obscurity. Few offer him more mounts.

He is still trying to crack the deep jockey colony in Southern California. Last weekend he had only four mounts at Hollywood Park. "Everybody knows that California racing has top trainers and top jockeys. I'm just glad to be riding with them," he said. "I am getting a lot of calls, but not to ride."

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