05/19/2016 10:00AM

Dazzling Gem fits well in full Sir Barton

Kim Pratt
Dazzling Gem will face 13 rivals in the Sir Barton Stakes on Saturday.

BALTIMORE – The connections of Dazzling Gem opted for the easier of two stakes spots for 3-year-olds Saturday at Pimlico. So, instead of being a longshot against the likes of Kentucky Derby one-two finishers Nyquist and Exaggerator in the $1.5 million Preakness, Dazzling Gem will be one of the favorites in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes.

While the Sir Barton may lack the quality of the Preakness, it exceeds it in quantity. A full field of 14 – all non-winners of an open stakes – will go 1 1/16 miles about two hours before 11 runners go 1 3/16 miles in the Preakness.

Dazzling Gem, third in the Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Arkansas Derby, was considered for the Kentucky Derby but did not have enough points to get in.

Trainer Brad Cox was quite content to skip the Preakness as well. He hopes the Sir Barton “is a good stepping-stone to other derbies down the road,” said Cox, rattling off names like Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. “He’s trained very, very well since the Arkansas Derby. I’m super pleased with him.”

Dazzling Gem will break from post 7 under Luis Saez.

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Coming off a debut maiden victory at Santa Anita in the slop – conditions that may be in play Saturday – American Freedom was sent off as a 7-5 favorite in a 14-horse field in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day at Churchill. He didn’t break sharply and finished sixth.

“He didn’t get away well,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “They just outfooted him away from there. He ran flat. He came back, looks good. Maybe he just needed that.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 American Freedom. Trainer Bob Baffert is 21-3-5-4 with a $0.43 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes within 14 days of a previous start. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Kingslayer, a son of Ghostzapper, is 2 for 2 since trainer John Servis added blinkers. The first of those two wins came by 12 lengths in the slop April 9.

Trainer Todd Pletcher entered the uncoupled entry of Donegal Moon and Gettysburg, the latter of whom breaks from post 14.