12/17/2015 11:06AM

Baffert has solid shot at record eighth win in Los Alamitos Futurity

Benoit & Associates
Toews On Ice will start on Saturday in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Although Toews On Ice already has raced five times and won his last three, he has yet to go around two turns, unlike Mor Spirit, who likely gained invaluable experience three weeks ago when he finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Those two look like the leading contenders on Saturday in the $350,000 Los Alamitos Futurity over 1 1/16 miles, and while bettors will have to parse the merits of both, the one guy who can sit back and not have to show a preference is their trainer, Bob Baffert, who once again looks like the heavy in the final Grade 1 race of the year for 2-year-olds.

Baffert already has won this race a record seven times, six when it was contested at Hollywood Park and then last year, in its first running here, with Dortmund. The Los Alamitos Futurity also offers points (10-4-2-1) toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Mor Spirit already has run at Churchill. This, though, will be his first start at Los Alamitos, the track where Toews On Ice began his win streak back in September. This will be the first time Toews On Ice has raced beyond seven furlongs.

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“He’s sprinted well. I’m not sure how far he wants to go, but this is the time to do it,” Baffert said. “He’s run well there. We’ll see how far he can take his speed.”

Mor Spirit was second to Airoforce last time out in the Kentucky Jockey Club, only the third start of his career. He pressed the pace that day, but Baffert wants him to sit and make a run on Saturday.

“We’re still trying to figure out his running style,” Baffert said. “I think he wants to settle and come running.”

Five others are entered in the Los Alamitos Futurity, including two – Frank Conversation and Sorryaboutnothing – from Doug O’Neill’s barn. Toews On Ice is the lone graded stakes winner in the field. Hollywood Don is the only other horse in the race to have won a stakes, and that was on turf.

The Los Alamitos Futurity goes as race 8 on a nine-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific.


Toews On Ice (Last 3 Beyers: 85-83-83)

◗ He has earned solid speed figures but nothing dazzling quite yet. He should get to the front, and then it will be a matter of whether he can handle the distance.

“He’s tough, and he fights,” Baffert said. “But that stretch there is pretty long.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 Toews On Ice. Trainer Bob Baffert is 12-3-3-0 with a $0.70 ROI over the past five years going sprint to route on dirt with juveniles coming off a win. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Mor Spirit (Last 3 Beyers: 85-92-83)

◗ The sloppy, sealed track he encountered at Churchill Downs might not have been ideal, for he has a fairly pedestrian wet-track Tomlinson rating.

◗ Baffert has held him in high regard for months.

“We were hoping he’d be ready for the Breeders’ Cup,” said Baffert, but illness during the summer interrupted his training.

Sorryaboutnothing (Beyers: 76-65)

◗ He was justifiably placed first on the disqualification of Urlacher in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar last time out, and though he has the least experience in the field, he has run well going two turns and on dirt.

Urlacher (Last 3 Beyers: 77-85-75)

◗ He was a distant second to Mor Spirit in a maiden race at Santa Anita in October prior to being disqualified from a win at Del Mar.

◗ He has yet to race with Lasix or in blinkers.

Hollywood Don (Last 3 Beyers: 71-68-79)

◗ Four of his five career starts have come on turf, his lone dirt race a distant third in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita two starts back.

◗ The Beyer Speed Figure in the FrontRunner was soft, but considering that Nyquist and Swipe, the top two finishers in that race, came back to run one-two in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, his performance might be better than it appears on paper.