04/06/2012 3:42PM

Santa Anita: Baffert will be active in major stakes at Oaklawn Park


Trainer Bob Baffert will have a busy weekend in Arkansas on April 13-14.

Baffert said he will start Mamma Kimbo and Jemima’s Pearl in the $300,000 Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, the same day that 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty makes her 2012 debut in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap. The Apple Blossom is expected to draw 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.

Next Saturday, Baffert starts Bodemeister and Secret Circle in the $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Mamma Kimbo and Jemima’s Pearl could be part of Baffert’s team for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4. Baffert has Princess Arabella, the winner of the Sunland Park Oaks on March 25, and Eden’s Moon, the winner of the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on March 3, as candidates for that race.

Eden’s Moon was third to Willa B Awesome in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 31, but had missed “four or five days” of training in the build-up because of a bruised foot, Baffert said on Friday.

“She’s better now,” he said.

Eden’s Moon raced near the lead when she won the Las Virgenes Stakes, and ran from off the pace in the Santa Anita Oaks, losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

“I wanted her to get back and try to get her to relax,” Baffert said.

Baffert considers her to have a leading chance in the Kentucky Oaks.

“Believe me, she’ll be better,” he said.

Sunday card cut to eight races

Santa Anita has an eight-race program on Sunday after the track had difficulty filling an intended nine-race program. There were 11 races carded for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby program.

Racing secretary Rick Hammerle said the 11-race program and Sunday’s Easter holiday were reasons why the track is running eight races. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Pacific, with racing scheduled to end shortly after 4 p.m. There are 60 horses entered on the program.

“It was Easter,” Hammerle said. “It wasn’t a day to push it.”

Sunday’s card is the second time in a month the track has run an eight-race program on a Sunday. On March 18, when wet weather was accurately forecast, the track ran eight races.

Through Thursday, Santa Anita has had a higher number of starters per race than the corresponding meeting in 2010-11. Through Thursday, the track has averaged 8.01 starters per race, compared with 7.66 per race at a similar point last year. The entire 2010-2011 meeting ended with an average field of 7.63 runners.

There is sometimes a drop in field sizes in the final two weeks of the meeting.

“It feels like it’s been doing well,” Hammerle said. “The [Santa Anita] Derby is kind of the culmination of the meet. “We’ll make it. It’s a long meet.”