Bob Baffert holds a powerful three-card hand as his Santa Anita Derby winning Roadster, Mucho Gusto and Kingly loom large among a field of six sophomores in Sunday's Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Named for Harbor View Farm's homebred Triple Crown Champion of 1978, the Affirmed will be contested at a mile and one sixteenth.
||William Antongeorgi III
An authoritative half length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 6, this Quality Road colt was never a factor over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, finishing 16thin the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Sidelined due to an entrapped epiglottis following a third place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity Sept. 3, Roadster came back running three starts back for Baffert on March 1, as he tried two turns for the first time in a 2 ½ length allowance win at a one mile.
Although ridden by Florent Geroux in the Run for the Roses, he'll be reunited with Mike Smith, who had ridden him in his first four starts, in Sunday's Affirmed. The leading money winner in the field with $706,200, he has three wins from five starts.
Owner: Speedway Stable, LLC | Trainer: Bob Baffert
Off as the prohibitive 1-2 favorite, this Kentucky-bred colt by Mucho Macho Man annexed his third graded stakes win on May 18, as he cut back in distance off of a disappointing third in the Grade III, 1 1/8 mile Sunland Derby to take the Grade III, seven furlong Lazaro Barrera Stakes here by 3 ¼ lengths.
A 4 ¾ length winner of the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes going 1 1/16 miles three starts back on Feb. 2, Mucho Gusto could prove an elusive front-running target under regular rider Joe Talamo.
Owner: Michael Lund Petersen | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A first out maiden winner going six furlongs at Del Mar on Dec. 1, this son of Tapit comes off a third place finish to Affirmed rival Visitant in the one mile Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on May 19.
A half length victor over Visitant two starts back in the 1 1/8 mile California Derby on April 27, Kingly is 5-2-2-1 and will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez for the third consecutive time.
With his last three starts coming on synthetic Tapeta at Golden Gate, he'll return to Santa Anita's main track for the first time since Jan. 31, when he was third as the 8-5 favorite in a one mile allowance over a sloppy track.
Owner: Clearview Stables, LLC, RAC O4 Racing, LLC and Michael Meegan | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A winner of three out his four starts, all at Golden Gate, this homebred colt by Ghostzapper rallied from off the pace to win the one mile Alcatraz on May 19 by 1 ¼ lengths, earning an Affirmed-best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 91.
With regular rider William Antongeorgi in town to ride, it would appear Visitant will have plenty of pace to run at as he gets a major test for class.
Owner: Williamson Racing, LLC | Trainer: John F. Martin