12/08/2012 4:40PM

Laurel: Brigand rewards Baffert's decision by taking City of Laurel

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Bridgand scores a one-length victory under Abel Castellano Jr. in the City of Laurel for 3-year-olds.

Bob Baffert knew what he was doing when he selected Brigand to become the first horse he ever raced at Laurel Park.

A $925,000 purchase at last year’s Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s 2-year-olds in training auction, Brigand was sent straight to the lead by jockey Abel Castellano Jr. and stayed in front throughout the seven-furlong journey to win Saturday’s $104,000 City of Laurel Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Owner Kaleem Shah, who earlier this season won his first Grade 1 stakes with the Baffert-trained Eden’s Moon in the Las Virgenes, was at Laurel to watch Brigand collect his first career stakes win.

Shah said the decision to bring Brigand, a New York-bred son of Flatter who has been racing and training in New York, was all Baffert’s.

“Bob handicapped the race and he thought we could win. That’s good enough for me,” said Shah, who won the West Virginia Derby and Iowa Derby in 2010 with the colt Concord Point.

Brigand ($5.60), who has now won three of his last four starts, covered the seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.08 after setting fractions of 23.41 and 46.74 seconds. His best previous effort in a stakes came when he was second in the Grade 2 Jerome going a mile in April.

Florida shipper Bellefire rallied from fourth to get second, a length in front of Javerre. The New York-based Hardened Wildcat, slightly favored over Brigand, never threatened and finished last while making his first start since early June.