Two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert has two horses set to take on Eclipse Award champion Storm the Court in his three-year-old debut Sunday in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita.
They are debut winner Nadal, who won a 6 ½ furlong maiden allowance race at Santa Anita by 3 ¾ lengths as the 6-5 favorite on Jan. 19, and Ra'ad, a winner by 2 ½ lengths as the 7-10 favorite going six furlongs at Los Alamitos last Dec. 7.
“Ra'ad's next major goal is the UAE Dubai Derby ($2.5 million at 1 3/16 miles March 28) but this is a good spot for him,” Baffert said of the son of Twirling Candy owned by RRR Racing.
“Nadal was a last-minute call this week. I liked the way he worked, although I would have preferred to go in an allowance race, but this race came up and the second start is so important for these young horses, so I'd rather just run him here. After this I'll feel more confident running him two turns.”
As to leading Triple Crown contender Thousand Words, undefeated gutsy winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Baffert will monitor his works, “but the next step would be the San Felipe (Stakes on March 7).
“He's a Pioneerof the Nile and a long-striding horse. He deals with everything really well and I love the way he handled all that kick back and dirt (coming from fourth between rivals to win the Lewis by three-quarters of a length).
“When he was asked to go, he took off. He's a very workmanlike horse.”
The San Vicente, race 7 of 8, with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Fast Enough, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Ra'ad, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Party Town, Jorge Velez, 20-1, Nadal, Joel Rosario, 4-5, Storm the Court, Flavien Prat, 9-5, and Ginobili, Abel Cedillo, 5-1.
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