04/02/2012 12:45PM

Santa Anita Derby: Baffert will have three starters

Shigeki Kikkawa
Bodemeister, who had a best-of-the-day workout Monday at Santa Anita, may well be headed to the Arkansas Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Bob Baffert will have three runners in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, but his roster may not be known until entries are taken on Wednesday.

[SANTA ANITA DERBY: Early look video, news updates, watch the race live]

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said on Monday that Liaison, the winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last December, and Blueskiesnrainbows, who has yet to start in a stakes, will run in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Plans for Bodemeister, second in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 10, and Paynter, unraced since beating maidens in a sprint on Feb. 18, have not been finalized. One will start in the Santa Anita Derby and the other will be sent to Oaklawn Park for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14. Last week, there were indications from the stable that Bodemeister was bound for Arkansas.

Barnes said that Baffert had not made up his mind as of early Monday.

The Hall of Fame trainer was in Dubai last week, and was scheduled to return to Southern California late Monday.

“We’re prepared for whatever he wants to do,” Barnes said of Baffert.

“One of them will get an extra week and one will run this week.”

Bodemeister worked six furlongs in 1:10.40 at Santa Anita on Monday, the fastest of nine works at the distance.

Blueskiesnrainbows, who could have been claimed for $30,000 in a maiden race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 on Monday. He was third behind stablemate Fed Biz in an optional claimer over a mile on Feb. 9, his most recent start.

Liaison worked six furlongs in 1:10.80 on Monday. Fourth in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, Liaison did not finish the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4 after he clipped heels and unseated jockey Rafael Bejarano in the final furlong.

Barnes said the Santa Anita Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles will suit Liaison, a winner of 3 of 6 starts and $487,560.

“He definitely needs more ground,” Barnes said. “I think he wants every bit of a mile and an eighth.”

The Santa Anita Derby field has nine expected starters. The race is led by Creative Cause, the winner of the San Felipe Stakes. Aside from Baffert’s representatives, the other probable starters are Brother Francis, Midnight Transfer, I’ll Have Another, Longview Drive, and Senor Rain.

Holy Candy, an impressive maiden-race winner on March 23, has not been ruled out of contention. Monday, Holy Candy worked five furlongs in 1:01. Trainer John Sadler timed the colt in 24 seconds through the last quarter-mile.

Sadler’s first preference is the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14, but the Santa Anita Derby will be discussed this week.

“I’m still leaning toward going out of town,” Sadler said.