03/31/2014 12:22PM

Santa Anita Derby next for Hoppertunity, says Baffert

Coady Photography
Rebel winner Hoppertunity will try to give trainer Bob Baffert his seventh Santa Anita Derby victory.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Hoppertunity, the winner of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 15, will be trainer Bob Baffert’s lone starter in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby, he said on Monday.

Baffert, who has won the Santa Anita Derby a record six times, said he plans to run the unbeaten Bayern in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12. He said plans are unclear for The Admiral, the winner of an allowance race at Santa Anita on March 16 who had been considered a Santa Anita Derby candidate.

Bayern and The Admiral have yet to start in a stakes. Bayern was scratched from the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8 because of a bruised foot. Monday at Santa Anita, Bayern worked five furlongs in 1:00.80. Baffert said he timed Bayern in 1:14 for six furlongs.

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“He was just cruising around there,” Baffert said. “He was just breezing. He’ll have another work next week.”

Hoppertunity worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Santa Anita Sunday. He would be Baffert’s first winner of the Santa Anita Derby since Midnight Interlude in 2011.

Hoppertunity has won 2 of 4 starts and earned $410,720, all for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. A colt by Any Given Saturday, Hoppertunity was fourth in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 22, and rebounded to win the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn over 1 1/16 miles by a half-length.

Hoppertunity bumped with runner-up Tapiture in the stretch of the Rebel. After a stewards' inquiry and a jockey’s objection, the order of finish was not changed.

The Santa Anita Derby is expected to be led by the 2014 stakes winners California Chrome and Candy Boy. Other expected runners are Big Tire, Dublin Up, Friendswith K Mill, Rprettyboyfloyd, and Schoolofhardrocks.

California Chrome, the winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, is the likely favorite. Candy Boy won the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 8.