12/19/2015 8:18PM

Mor Spirit gives Baffert early Derby prospect by taking Los Alamitos Futurity

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Benoit & Associates
Heavily favored Mor Spirit, ridden by Gary Stevens, scores by 1 1/4 lengths in the Los Alamitos Futurity.

CYPRESS, Calif. – It can’t be easy to replace a Triple Crown winner, but trainer Bob Baffert is doing his best to stock up anew on Kentucky Derby prospects.

 Mor Spirit on Saturday stamped himself as a potential serious contender for the 2016 Derby by running down stablemate Toews On Ice to win the Grade 1, $350,000 Los Alamitos Futurity, a race Baffert won last year with Dortmund.

 Dortmund went on to win the Santa Anita Derby and then was third in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah, and it looks like Mor Spirit will be given every chance to develop into a top prospect.

 On Saturday, Mor Spirit ($3.40) overcame a wide trip and a stubborn foe in Toews On Ice to get up in deep stretch and win by 1 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds. Toews On Ice was six lengths in front of third-place I’malreadythere, followed by Urlacher, Frank Conversation, Hollywood Don, and Sorryaboutnothing in the field of seven.

 Mor Spirit raced three paths wide on both turns, then used the long stretch to run down Toews On Ice, who was making his first start around two turns.

 “He ran game,” Baffert said of Toews On Ice. “I knew the distance would be tough.”

 Mor Spirit gave Baffert a record eighth victory in the Futurity, which was run at Hollywood Park for its first 33 editions.

Mor Spirit, ridden by Gary Stevens, was timed in 1:43.54 on the fast main track.

 As with Dortmund, Mor Spirit was sent to Churchill Downs for his start prior to the Los Alamitos Futurity. He finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club over a sloppy, sealed track. Baffert said Mor Spirit’s style was altered that day -- owing to the track being off -- by having him forwardly placed, but he went back to what worked in his maiden win Oct. 23 at Santa Anita, settling and making one run.

 “In Kentucky, with the mud and the slop, we didn’t want to take him back and get mud in his face,” said Baffert, who said he told Stevens to “sit and be patient” on Saturday.

 Mor Spirit has a bit of a connection to American Pharoah, who captured the Triple Crown this year. Mor Spirit is a son of Eskendereya, who was owned by Ahmed Zayat, who also owned American Pharoah. Mor Spirit was purchased by owner Michael Lund Petersen for $650,000 at Fasig-Tipton in Florida in March.

 “We’ve always been really high on him,” Baffert said. “We were a little bit disappointed with his race at Churchill.

 “Now we can sit back and pick our spots. We know he’ll ship.”

 And we know the desired destination next spring.

Frank More than 1 year ago
All I know make Baffert and his horse earn it this year....Last year was the biggest joke in horse racing my 45+ years I've been watching.... Scripted Hollywood outcomes for most all AP races except Derby and Travers - his only 2 honest races.....
Mark More than 1 year ago
Maybe its and AP Hangover....but do either of these two Baffert horses impress anyone?
Quite a More than 1 year ago
Can anyone develop a young horse better than Gary Stevens? The dude is in his 50's knee replaced and does nothing but give a horse confidence when aboard. I'll bet he wins another TC race in 2016. Regarding Mor Spirit, nice horse but will find it hard to believe he will get a mile and a quarter. Will do damage on the Derby trail no doubt..
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Eskendara has not exactly been knocking them dead at the race track. This is the first real good one I have seen. Of course, he beat nothing, today. That said, I couldn't believe that 7 came back on again for 3rd. He was up close (I thought they'd switch up the style and try him from a little further off) and couldn't keep up when the real running began and it seemed like he was being passed by at least a couple more then all of a sudden he's coming back on again. He has to be in store for a new jockey and a new one-run style the next he appears, hopefully against slightly easier.