02/27/2014 12:53PM

Ria Antonia headed to Baffert to prepare for Santa Anita Oaks

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Tom Keyser
The 3-year-old filly Ria Antonia is being transferred to trainer Bob Baffert's care in California.

Ria Antonia, who was placed first via disqualification in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and finished fourth last weekend in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds in her 3-year-old debut, is being transferred from trainer Jeremiah Englehart to trainer Bob Baffert in California, principal owner Ron Paolucci said Thursday.

Ria Antonia was moved Thursday from Englehart’s small string at Fair Grounds – which he set up strictly because of Ria Antonia – to trainer Jonas Gibson, who trains for Paolucci. But the filly will stay with Gibson only long enough for Paolucci to find a flight to California.

“I don’t know yet when she’ll go. Shipping is very tight right now,” Paolucci said. “I might have to just charter a flight. As soon as she can get there, she will. She likes that track.”

Ria Antonia will make her next start in the April 4 Santa Anita Oaks, a plan that was revealed by Englehart on Tuesday. Englehart, however, declined Paolucci’s request to ship Ria Antonia from Fair Grounds to Santa Anita several weeks in advance of the Santa Anita Oaks and oversee her training from across the country. Englehart trains about 50 horses split between Belmont Park and upstate New York. The handful of horses he shipped to New Orleans with assistant trainer Elizabeth Dobles in December focused on Ria Antonia.

“Really, it wasn’t that hard of a decision,” said Englehart. “I don’t treat any horse above another.

“I’m so glad we won the Breeders’ Cup - it was a great experience - but I always knew in the back of my mind this could happen,” he said.

Paolucci said just after the Juvenile Fillies that he wanted to run Ria Antonia in the Kentucky Derby, and when she came to Fair Grounds, it was with the reported intent of making her 2014 debut against males in the Risen Star Stakes. That plan was changed in January, and Ria Antonia could only finish fourth, beaten about 14 lengths by romping winner Untapable in the Rachel Alexandra on Feb. 22. Englehart said before the race that he thought Ria Antonia wasn’t fit to show her best in the Rachel Alexandra and would move forward off the race.

“I was absolutely disappointed, but I wasn’t disappointed in the way [Englehart] trained her. I was just disappointed in the way she ran,” Paolucci said. “The second work before the race, I could tell she didn’t have her legs under her yet.”

Englehart said he no longer is training the four other horses he had for Paolucci. Three Fair Grounds-based horses have gone to Gibson.

– additional reporting by David Grening

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the winner of the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, it was Untapable, not Tapiture.