07/12/2012 3:52PM

Baffert realistic about Del Mar prospects


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The dominance that trainer Bob Baffert’s stable has showed at the current spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park will not extend into Del Mar, he said on Thursday.

Going into Thursday’s program, the first day of the final week of the Hollywood Park meeting, Baffert had a commanding lead in the trainer’s standings with 33 wins, leading runner-up John Sadler by 22 races.

Hollywood Park’s meeting closes on Sunday. Del Mar opens on Wednesday.

Baffert won the 2011 training title at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with 36 wins from 113 runners, but tied for only sixth at the 2011 Del Mar meeting, winning seven races from 62 starters.

He expects a similar scenario in coming weeks.

“I ran a lot of horses” at Hollywood Park, he said. “It’s been a good meet and a lot of good races. It will be sort of quiet at Del Mar.

“I used to aim for Del Mar. Now I aim for Hollywood.”

Baffert said part of the shift in emphasis is based on the racing surfaces. Hollywood Park has a Cushion Track brand synthetic surface that plays similar to dirt. Del Mar has a Polytrack brand surface that Baffert said has been more difficult for him to assess.

“You just don’t know how they’ll handle the track,” he said of Del Mar.

Still, the 59-year-old Hall of Fame trainer will have a full stable at Del Mar, and a second outfit based at Hollywood Park.

For Wednesday’s opening day at Del Mar, Baffert will start Midnight Crooner in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Midnight Crooner has won 2 of 6 starts and $63,185.

Third in the Pasadena Stakes on turf at Santa Anita in March, Midnight Crooner was eighth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April. In his only subsequent start, Midnight Crooner won an optional claimer over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on May 6.

Baffert said he considered another start for Midnight Crooner at Hollywood Park, but opted to point for the Oceanside.

“I was going to run him at Hollywood but I was a little leery of the turf course,” he said. “I thought it might be a little hard.”

Going into the final week, Baffert had 10 stakes wins at the current meeting. He has chances for two more on Saturday. Executiveprivilege starts in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, while American Lady and Glamorista start in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap.

Two of his recent stakes winners are sidelined.

Drill, the winner of the Laz Barrera Stakes in May, had a bone chip taken out of an ankle recently, Baffert said on Thursday. Roman Threat, the winner of the Los Angeles Handicap in May, has had recent training curtailed by a “foot issue.”

Nonios going to Haskell

Nonios, the winner of the Grade  3 Affirmed Handicap on June 3 and runner-up in the Swaps Stakes on July 4, is bound for the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 29, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Nonios worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Wednesday.

“We’ll look at the Haskell because Union Rags is out,” Hollendorfer said. “That’s a shame.”

The winner of the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Union Rags is sidelined at least until 2013 with an injury to a suspensory ligament.

Nonios has won 3 of 5 starts and $129,000.

Sutherland at signing session

Jockey Chantal Sutherland, who became the first woman to win the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7, will sign autographs in the paddock on Saturday.

The autograph session is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m.

Sutherland has a chance for another stakes win on Saturday, aboard Glamorista in the A Gleam.