12/18/2014 12:29PM

Dortmund makes stakes debut in Los Alamitos Futurity

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Dortmund, an allowance winner his last out, will try a stakes for the first time Saturday in the Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course.

On a Saturday morning at Santa Anita the weekend prior to the Breeders’ Cup, trainer Bob Baffert was working a number of his horses for starts the following weekend. In the midst of all that activity, he sent a text to a reporter that read simply: “Watch gate work coming. Next star.”

Coming from a guy whose strike rate at touting horses is quite strong, this was a powerful endorsement. A few moments later, a big chestnut colt came lumbering out of the gate, towering over his workmate, and effortlessly blazed through a six-furlong drill in 1:11.40.

On Nov. 2, that colt, named Dortmund, rolled to an impressive 4 3/4-length win against maidens. But it was his subsequent performance, on Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs, that announced Dortmund to the country. In a one-turn mile allowance race, he cruised to a 7 3/4-length victory, his win so dominating that it overshadowed that day’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill and left Dortmund the shortest price among individual betting interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

To date, though, Dortmund has yet to run in a stakes and has yet to run around two turns. Those are the next hurdles he will attempt to clear, and that will happen Saturday, when Dortmund heads the field in the Grade 1, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity at 1 1/16 miles.

The Los Alamitos Futurity was known as the CashCall Futurity when it was run at Hollywood Park, which closed last year. Over the years, it had an uncanny record of providing a showcase for 2-year-olds who would go on to be important 3-year-olds, including last year, when it was won by Shared Belief, who clinched an Eclipse Award in the process.

The chances of Dortmund being able to parlay a win Saturday into a championship are remote, being as two-time Grade 1 winner American Pharoah and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red are considered the top two candidates for the title. But another win by Dortmund could strengthen the belief that at present, he is the most exciting prospect of his generation.

Four others will be out to deny him, including Mr. Z, who ran a deceptively good race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and followed that with a near miss in the Delta Jackpot. The stakes winner No Problem and the maiden winners Firing Line and Bench Warrant – all trying two turns for the first time – round out the field.

:: LOS ALAMITOS FUTURITY: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Key contenders

Dortmund (Last 2 Beyers: 97-81)

* He towers over the field off speed figures, with his last number the best in the field, and he towers over the field physically, too.

“He’s 16-3,” Baffert said, referring to his height in hands. “He’s just a big old dude. He’s a big, Point Given-type horse, but he’s quick.”

Baffert said Dortmund is “ready enough to go two turns.”

“He’s actually settled down,” Baffert said. “We’ve been able to get him to breeze without him getting rank.”

Mr. Z (Last 3 Beyers: 90-89-80)

Though he has just one win in seven starts, he has a decided edge in experience over his rivals. This will be his eighth start, and it will come at the sixth track at which he has raced.

His last two races, both with blinkers, have been his best.

Firing Line (Last 2 Beyers: 87-86)

He was an unlucky loser in his debut at Santa Anita, but he made amends with an impressive victory against maidens at Del Mar.

It is interesting to note that Mike Smith, who rode him in his first two starts, wound up on Mr. Z, so Rafael Bejarano takes over.

No Problem (Last 3 Beyers: 76-71-58)

He showed a tremendous amount of grit to prevail in the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar.

He and Dortmund are the only horses in the field with more than one win.

Bench Warrant (Last 2 Beyers: 68-72)

He won nicely when making his debut at Del Mar in July but was absent for four months before a moderate effort when third in an allowance race last month also at Del Mar.

He is the only horse in the field who never has raced on dirt.

Sean Rice More than 1 year ago
a toast to Team Kaleem and Bob Baffert !!! what a race
Sean Rice More than 1 year ago
Go Team Baffert =D and checkout Derby Bred for iPhone. Its a triple-crown app, just upgraded for 2015 on the App Store.
Sean Rice More than 1 year ago
Go Team Baffert =D and checkout Derby Bred for iPhone! just upgraded for 2015 with prep races. It's pretty cool and on the App Store now.
Sean Rice More than 1 year ago
sorry for double comments :D totally accidental
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
This is all BS baffert hype on the left coast. Tell me where this horse is come Santa Anita Derby time.
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
Lack of pace doesn't matter. Being overbet doesn't matter. Dortmund will make short work of a field lacking in real talent.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Dortmund will be over bet. There really isn't much speed in this race. My bet will be No Problem. I think he is a runner and will go off higher than his chance of winning. Good luck all.
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Big Mistake buddy ... Dortmund is destined for greatness....
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I actually agree with you Lenny. But, even good horses destined for greatness lose races on their way up the ladder. I wish you the best.
Craig Kirsch More than 1 year ago
If you like No Problem so much you should play a straight trifecta 3-2-(4,5). That will pay more than a win bet on No Problem. Dortmund would have to have a terrible break to lose to these. Dortmund is headed for greatness. He could be the best horse since Spectacular Bid. Don't bet against him, you are throwing your money away.
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Spectacular Bid??...please. Off an allowance race?. He is just progressive like Uncle Mo was, and then he hits the wall.
jim More than 1 year ago
I watched both of Dortmund's races, and in each one, he shows great initial speed, for such a big horse, but what was really impressive, was how he just lengthened his stride when they turned for home and he drew away like a big Jaguar, either car or animal. He didn't look like he was using much effort, but he was widening the gap between him and his followers with each stride. It will be telltale about Baffert's prospects for 2015. Dortmund and American Pharoah and who will be the lucky riders. I'd like to see Tyler Baze on Dortmund and Garcia on the Pharoah. I think Tyler is the best rider in America at getting horses positioned out of the gate and as big as Dorty is, he can use every advantage to display his superiority.
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
I'd rather see Rafael Bejarano on Mr. Z!!!
Westin Niles More than 1 year ago
Getting off "Firing Line", Mike Smith? You've done "screwed up".
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
You must have a reason for that comment? Maybe you can share it??