03/14/2013 11:57AM

Flashback to have Gomez aboard for Santa Anita Derby

Emily Shields
Under Julien Leparoux, Flashback (inside) finishes second to Hear the Ghost in the San Felipe last Saturday.

Garrett Gomez will replace Julien Leparoux aboard Flashback for his next start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6, trainer Bob Baffert said Thursday morning at Santa Anita.

“It’s a tough decision, a very difficult decision,” Baffert said of replacing Leparoux, who had been aboard Flashback for all three of his previous starts.

Flashback suffered the first loss of his career last Saturday in the San Felipe Stakes, finishing second after battling with Goldencents for the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race.

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“Under the circumstances, he ran a really good race,” said Gary West, who owns Flashback with his wife, Mary. “To have any shot at the Derby, you need to have a hard race, and he got that. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the race unfolded, but he came back fine and he’s doing well.”

Flashback returned to the track for training at Santa Anita on Thursday morning.

Flashback defeated maidens in his debut, then won the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in his second lifetime start, both with Leparoux.

The first four finishers from the San Felipe – Hear the Ghost, Flashback, Tiz a Minister, and Goldencents – all are expected back for the Santa Anita Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that offers 170 points overall, with 100 to the winner, under the new points system put in place this year by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility to the Kentucky Derby on May 4.