10/24/2015 7:25PM

Dortmund returns better than ever in Big Bear

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Benoit & Associates
Dortmund could be headed to the Clark Handicap after winning the Big Bear Stakes in his comeback under Martin Garcia.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Dortmund won his first start in more than five months in Saturday’s $75,580 Big Bear Stakes at Santa Anita.

Winning rider Martin Garcia said Dortmund is not the same colt he rode to a victory in the Santa Anita Derby, a third in the Kentucky Derby, and a fourth in the Preakness Stakes in the spring.

“He’s even better,” Garcia said. “He’s more mature and he relaxed more. I’m excited to have him back.”

Dortmund ($2.60) ran a mile in 1:36.42 to win his fifth career stakes in the Big Bear, his first appearance in a non-graded stakes. Trainer Bob Baffert considered the Big Bear as a prep for the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

Dortmund raced near the front throughout the Big Bear. He ran within a half-length of pacesetter Soi Phet through the opening quarter-mile, engaged the leader on the backstretch, and took the lead with a wide move on the turn.

Dortmund led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining, and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Point Piper, the winner of the Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar in August. Motown Men, who won the Tiznow Stakes for California-breds here in May, finished third in the field of five, followed by Soi Phet and Mystery Train.

Dortmund was taken out of training following the Preakness Stakes with the goal of allowing the colt to regain weight, Baffert said at the time.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Dortmund has won 7 of 9 starts and earned $1,622,480. Aside from the Santa Anita Derby and Big Bear Stakes, Dortmund won  the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity, Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes,  and Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.