09/24/2010 3:03PM

Baffert's entry tough to top in Hinds

Benoit & Associates
Red Door Drive forms part of a potent entry for trainer Bob Baffert in the Ralph Hinds.

POMONA, Calif. – Trainer Bob Baffert can fill a gap in his résumé Sunday at Fairplex Park, where Spurrier and Red Door Drive are favored to give Baffert his first victory in the $75,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap.

“Any time you can win a major stakes where they have a Ferris wheel is an honor,” Baffert said.

Any time the two best horses are coupled in the betting, they are difficult to oppose. The entry of Spurrier and Red Door Drive, owned by Arnold Zetcher, is 6-5 on the early line in the centerpiece race of the Los Angeles County Fair meet.

Eleven entered the 1 1/8-mile Hinds, including 2009 Pomona Derby winner Quindici Man, third last time out in a stakes at Del Mar. Quindici Man figures to start as the second choice, followed by sharp allowance horses Cigar Man and Hey Elvis.

The Hinds field includes past stakes horses trying regain their form. They are Tres Borrachos, winner of the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes in 2008; and Booyah, upset winner of the Hinds in 2008. The field also includes Hey Elvis, a fast turf horse switching to dirt.

But the race boils down to the Baffert-Zetcher entry, with closer Spurrier the better half. Baffert considered running Spurrier next weekend in the Grade 1 Goodwood at Hollywood Park, but said “he’s a cut below those horses; this is a good spot.”

Joel Rosario rides 5-for-23 Spurrier, who was scratched Sept. 4 at Del Mar with a cough. He recovered quickly, worked well twice including five-eighths at Fairplex, and can mow them down late.

If the closer Spurrier falls short, Red Door Drive is qualified to win. A pace-presser with 4 wins from 22 starts, Red Door Drive finished second last out in a minor stakes. Red Door Drive is making his first start on a surface other than turf or synthetic.

“They get on dirt and they are different horses,” Baffert said.

Red Door Drive will be ridden by all-time leading Fairplex jockey Martin Pedroza.

Quindici Man has not raced on a fast main track since Sept. 26, 2009, at Fairplex. That was the date he won the Pomona Derby as a 3-year-old. Victor Espinoza rides for trainer Craig Lewis.

Hey Elvis finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Quindici Man, last out on turf at Del Mar.

The remaining Hinds outsiders are Swift Winds, Unusual Smoke, All Saint, and Cayambe.