Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert worked Paynter and Liaison, marquee candidates for Saturday's San Diego Handicap, in tandem Sunday morning and pronounced them both ready for Saturday's $200,000 potential stepping stone to the TVG Pacific Classic.
The two 4-year-old bay colts came out on the track at 8 a.m. as scheduled, with Rafael Bejarano up on Paynter and Martin Garcia on Liason. Garcia guided Liaison to the rail position, and the work started just before the half-mile pole.
Liaison broke off two lengths in front of Paynter and the margin remained about the same through a first quarter in :24 flat. Paynter moved up alongside his workmate in the stretch and they were head-and-head crossing under the finish line in :47.60. Paynter's individual time was :47.20 for the half.
Clocker Toby Turrell had them going to the clubhouse turn about a length apart with Paynter getting the faster time, officially of :59.40 and Liason :59.60.
“Both horses went strong with Liason gaining a slight edge on the gallop out,” Turrell said.
It was the second work in company over the track for Liason and Paynter. They went five furlongs on Monday, July 15, with Paynter clocked in 1:00.40 and Liaison 1:00.60.
“Liaison worked good, looks good and is as ready as I can get him for next week,” Baffert told owner Arnold Zetcher, who was alongside in the grandstand to watch the exercise.
“They both went well,” Baffert said. “All systems are go. The plan is to run them both in the San Diego if everything goes right.”
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