Updated on 03/11/2015 8:48AM

Dortmund remains perfect in San Felipe

Benoit & Associates
Dortmund is now 5 for 5 after his front-running win under Martin Garcia in the San Felipe.

ARCADIA, Calif .- In his first couple of races, Dortmund wanted to run over horses, he was so headstrong. And, considering how big he is, he might have come close to leaping over them if he wanted. But in his recent races, and through a series of workouts, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia have taught him to relax, even if he’s on the lead, and the results of that labor were on full display Saturday.

Dortmund made the top in the Grade 2, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, but he was sensible about what lay ahead, and he was perfectly fine going at a steady clip on the front end. When it was time to go in earnest, he responded, turning back a bid from Bolo in upper stretch and another from Prospect Park in deep stretch to win this major 3-year-old prep for both the April 4 Santa Anita Derby and May 2 Kentucky Derby.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

 Dortmund – a son of Derby winner Big Brown -- also picked up 50 points for first under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the Kentucky Derby field. That’s enough to guarantee a spot in the field, and he has earned it, having scored 10 points previously in both the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert Lewis Stakes, giving him a total of 70. He is unbeaten in five starts. He is the best prospect to have raced on the West Coast this year.

 After setting fractions of 23.12 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.98 for a half-mile, and 1:11.30 for six furlongs, Dortmund threw a 24.21 fourth quarter at his rivals, then completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:41.65. He won by 1 1/4 lengths over Prospect Park, who caught Bolo late to finish second by a half-length.

 Lord Nelson was fourth and was followed, in order, by The Gomper, Pulmarack, Pain and Misery, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Sir Samson, and Kenjisstorm.

 Dortmund paid $3.60. He has been favored in all of his starts, and been odds-on in his last four.

“I didn’t plan to be on the lead,” Garcia said. “The plan with him is just to have him in a place where he’s happy. You don’t want to be sending, or taking him back. Just let him be happy.”

 Prospect Park, making his stakes debut, was “full of run at the end,” said his rider, Kent Desormeaux.

 “I had to throw the air brakes on him on the first turn,” Desormeaux said. “I had to thread the needle at the quarter pole. He flew home. I think the team accomplished a lot. This is what he’s going to face in the kinds of races he’s going to run in from this point.”

 Both Dortmund and Prospect Park are likely to meet again in the Santa Anita Derby in four weeks. After Dortmund won the Lewis, Baffert’s initial thought was to bypass the San Felipe and simply await the Santa Anita Derby. But Dortmund’s size mattered. A small, slight horse might not have recovered quickly, but he did, so Baffert trusted his instincts and ran in the San Felipe.

 “After his last race, the light bulb went on,” said Baffert, who trains Dortmund for Kaleem Shah. “Before that, it was flickering.”