10/05/2013 7:02PM

Indiana Derby: Power Broker prevails in slop

Lawrence Van Garrett
Power Broker, with Martin Garcia aboard, wins the Indiana Derby by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

As jockey Martin Garcia skimmed the inside fence around the first turn of the Indiana Derby on the favored Power Broker, he had a single-minded purpose: Get off the rail.

One race earlier, in the Indiana Oaks, Garcia had ridden the heavily favored Fiftyshadesofhay, who got bogged down on the inside of a sloppy, sealed track as Pure Fun whizzed past to victory on the far outside. For the Derby’s first quarter-mile, Garcia found himself exactly where he didn’t want to be, but as the bulky field strung out turning onto the backstretch, Garcia saw his chance.

He guided Power Broker off the rail, out to the three path, and eventually to a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby.

“I was having visions of [the Oaks],” Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said of seeing Power Broker briefly stuck on the fence. “Martin basically won the race at the 6 1/2 [furlong pole], getting him off the rail. He rode him with a lot of confidence.”

Once in the clear, Power Broker took care of the rest. Ruler of Love, tracked by Bradester and Uncaptured, went a moderate opening quarter-mile in 24.03 seconds but passed through the first half-mile in a legitimate 47.03. By then, Garcia and Power Broker loomed large on the outside, and they moved aggressively to engage Bradester, who had taken over from a fading Ruler of Love, at the top of the homestretch.

Bradester drifted out at the eighth pole, briefly impeding Power Broker, but the winner shrugged off the trouble and pushed determinedly through the finish under vigorous encouragement from Garcia. Bradester, making his stakes debut, stayed on gamely for the place, finishing a half-length in front of Holy Lute, who looked like he could win at the five-sixteenths pole but wound up at least seven paths wide into the stretch. Micromanage, who had an eventful journey, closed fast for fourth.

Power Broker paid $5.40 to win and was timed in 1:41.95 for 1 1/16 miles, running his wet-track record to 3 for 3. By Pulpit and out of the Wild Again mare Shop Again, and owned by Gary and Mary West, Power Broker won for the fourth time in 10 starts. Fifth in the Santa Anita Derby in his 2013 debut, Power Broker missed the Triple Crown but won the Easy Goer Stakes and finished second to Verrazano in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

"He's a nice horse; we've always known it,” Barnes said. “[Baffert] just tried to find the right spot for him after the race he ran in the Haskell. He did show up; he just ran against a monster there that day.”

Power Broker’s victory gave Baffert his third win in the Indiana Derby and his first career victory at Indiana Downs. All 18 previous editions of the race were contested at Hoosier Park, which was used only for harness racing during the 2013 racing season.

– additional reporting by Nicole Russo