(Commander Khai headlines this Friday’s Baffle Stakes at Santa Anita / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
In what appears to be a speed-laden lineup, the Richard Baltas-trained Commander Khai will try to fight off all early pace challenges as he heads a field of nine sophomores in Friday’s $75,000 Baffle Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs over the Santa Anita turf. Originally scheduled to be run on Jan. 31, the Baffle was rescheduled for this Friday due to early concerns about continued rainfall.
In a wide-open affair, the Mark Glatt-conditioned Beer Can Man, John Sadler’s Irish import Sword Zorro, Phil D’Amato’s Earls Rock and Doug O’Neill’s Mac Daddy Too, all rate good chances.
Most recently second, beaten one length in the one mile turf Eddie Logan Stakes on Dec. 27, Commander Khai led throughout but tired late under John Velazquez at 7-2. Third, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Beer Can Man under similar circumstances in the Grade III Cecil B. DeMille going a mile on turf at Del Mar Nov. 29, he turned the tables on Beer Can Man in the Eddie, Logan, finishing 2 ¾ lengths in front of him.
Owned by Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran, Commander Khai will be handled by Umberto Rispoli, who was aboard for a five furlong turf maiden win four starts back on Sept. 4. Speedy and consistent, Commander Khai, a Kentucky-bred colt by Twirling Candy, is 5-1-2-1.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing and Sterling Stables, LLC, Beer Can Man stalked the early pace and went on to a half length win at 19-1 in the Grade III Cecil B. DeMille two starts back and will hope for a similar trip under regular rider Juan Hernandez. Most recently third in the Eddie Logan, this Kentucky bred colt by Can the Man out of the Dynaformer mare Cheesecake will be making his third start for Glatt and his seventh overall since shipping in from Indiana Downs in November.
An impressive one mile turf maiden winner in his U.S. debut Jan. 9, Irish-bred Earls Rock would appear to have plenty of upside as he approaches his third career start and second race with D’Amato. Off at 9-5 in a field of 10, Earls Rock sat a close third early under Flavien Prat and won going away by 4 ¼ lengths. Owned by Anthony Fanticola, Earls Rock earned an 80 Beyer Speed figure and would be no surprise to go off as the Baffle favorite.
Idle since breaking his maiden going seven furlongs on turf on Oct. 24 in his native Ireland, Sword Zorro looms a big question mark with Joel Rosario engaged to ride for John Sadler. Sword Zorro, 5-1-3-1 in Ireland, has been training forwardly on Santa Anita’s inner training track and based upon his Irish running lines, should be forwardly placed in his U.S. debut.
Doug O’Neill’s Mac Daddy Too, a front-running maiden $80,000 claiming winner going one mile on turf two starts back, cut back to a six furlong turf allowance here on Jan. 8 and prevailed by a nose under Rispoli at 9-1, who appears to have opted for the top selection. Owned by ERJ Racing, LLC, Train Wreck Al Racing Stables and William Strauss, this Pennsylvania-bred colt by Maclean’s Music tries stakes competition for the first time with a red-hot Abel Cedillo up.
THE $75,000 BAFFLE STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 8 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
- Gator Shining–Ricardo Gonzalez–120
- Earls Rock–Flavien Prat–120
- Weston–Tyler Baze–124
- Mac Daddy Too–Abel Cedillo–122
- Sword Zorro–Joel Rosario–120
- Commander Khai–Umberto Rispoli–120
- Exhalting–Edwin Maldonado–122
- Harlan Estate–Ruben Fuentes–120
- Beer Can Man–Juan Hernandez–124
First post time for an eight-race card on Friday is at 12:30 p.m.