HEAVILY-FAVORED DORTMUND WINS THRILLING LOS ALAMITOS FUTURITY;
UNDEFEATED BIG BROWN COLT PASSES FIRST TWO TURN TEST
CYPRESS, Calif. â€“ Making his first start around two turns, Dortmund, the 3-5 favorite, remained undefeated and became a Grade I winner, capturing a thrilling $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Contested for the first time locally after being run 33 times as the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013) at the now-closed Hollywood Park, the Los Alamitos Futurity finished with Dortmund, Firing Line and Mr. Z on the wire together.
The photo finish camera showed Dortmund the winner by a head with Firing Line a nose in front of 5-2 second choice Mr. Z.
A 2-year-old son of Big Brown and the Tale of the Cat mare Our Josephina, Dortmund, who was supplemented to the Futurity at a total cost of $20,000, enabled Bob Baffert to win the Futurity for a record seventh time and join fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who saddled Mr. Z Saturday, as the only trainers to win thoroughbred and Quarter horse Grade I races at Los Alamitos.
Lukas became the first member of the club when Take Charge Brandi won the $350,500 Starlet Dec. 13.
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Dortmund, who was purchased for $140,000 in May, completed the 1 1/16 miles in a track record 1:40.86, eclipsing the mark of 1:41.62 set by the Baffert-trained Tiz Midnight in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes two weeks earlier.
Providing jockey Martin Garcia with his first Futurity score, Dortmund paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 and increased his earnings to $359,400.
Positioned third in the clear while Mr. Z. set the pace accompanied by Firing Line, Dortmund rallied outside his rivals in the final eighth of a mile and was able to win the hard-fought decision.
â€œI asked Martin, â€™Did you know you won?â€™â€™â€™ said Baffert. â€œHe said, â€˜Yes,â€™ and I said, â€˜Why didnâ€™t you give me a fist pump to let me know?â€™ I thought he won, but I wasnâ€™t sure. It was so close.
â€œI knew it was going to be those three (Dortmund, Firing Line and Mr. Z). Theyâ€™re all really good horses. Heâ€™s such a big horse. I wasnâ€™t sure how he was going to handle the turns here. He broke well and (Garcia) got him into his own rhythm. He reminds me of (2001 Horse of the Year) Point Given. Heâ€™s got a good mind, but heâ€™s still filling out and heâ€™s still learning.â€™â€™
Since the Los Alamitos Futurity is part of the â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€™â€™ series, Dortmund earned 10 points toward earning a spot in the starting gate next May 2 at Churchill Downs.
â€œHe learned a lot,â€™â€™ said Garcia. â€œThat was the first time he went two turns and usually heâ€™s right there (on the lead), but today they broke really fast. I was pretty comfortable. I knew what I had underneath.
â€œHe was pretty quiet two months ago. He was a baby when he first ran. It was a big difference.â€™â€™
â€œHe ran a very good race first time going two turns,â€™â€™ said Simon Callaghan, Firing Lineâ€™s trainer. â€œHe got a little anxious before the race. He ran exceptionally well. Tough beat, but we have a lot of other good races to look forward to with him.â€™â€™
Mr. Z, who was trying to make Lukas the first trainer to win the Starlet and Futurity in the same year, paid $2.10 to show while finishing 8 Â¼ lengths in front of Bench Warrant, the longest shot in the field at 43-1. No Problem, who was also supplemented to the race, completed the order of finish.
Although he has only one victory in eight starts, Mr. Z has earned nearly $500,000 and finished second or third in five of his seven appearances in graded stakes.
Racing resumes Sunday at Los Alamitos. Post time for closing day of the Winter thoroughbred meet is 12:30 p.m.
Baffert also won the seventh race Saturday with Sweet Marini, who is also owned by Shah, and the double clinched the training title. He has eight victories, two more than Phil Dâ€™Amato, who has only one Sunday entrant.
Tyler Baze and Rafael Bejarano remain tied atop the jockey standings with 10 wins apiece. The former is named on three mounts Sunday, half as many as Bejarano.
Garcia, who is scheduled to ride twice Sunday, and Tiago Pereira, who has four closing day mounts, are tied for third with eight wins.