(Solomini / Photo Courtesy of Zayatstables.com)
It has been a long wait for the fans of Solomini, one of many talented colts from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert. Ever since he defeated the likes of McKinzie and Instilled Regard in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity last November, and was subsequently disqualified to third by the stewards for alleged interference in the deep stretch, most of the supporters have been watching for his return with a pledge bent on revenge and validation.
Yet, that was nearly 31/2 months ago now. And, with each passing week, the wait has become harder; more excruciating; more anxious.
While Bolt d’Oro made his long-await 2018 last week in the San Felipe, Baffert kept Solomini in the barn. While roommate McKinzie won the Sham Stakes, and, actually, won the San Felipe, Solomini was left in the stall next door. While the likes of Enticed, Quip, Promises Fulfilled filled up their resumes and points reservoir for the Kentucky Derby, Solomini has been filling up his time with morning works.
Well, wait no more Solomini fans. This Saturday, the striking son of Curlin will make his 2018 debut when he will run in the G2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
And, it should be his coming out party. Last Saturday, Baffert put the colt through a grueling 5-furlong morning test at Santa Anita. Solomini passed with sparkling numbers, crusing the distance in :59 seconds flat. That was the top time out of 81 to go the distance.
In a recent interview with the Horse Racing Radio Network, Baffert said:
“He’s sort of a lazy, grinder kind of horse, but he shows up in the afternoons. That’s one thing about him. He has a lot of heart. Prat — (jockey) Flavien Prat — he’s high on him. He says, ‘He’s lazy, but he just keeps going.’ He doesn’t get tired.”
Baffert, who has won the Rebel stakes a record six times since 2010, will have to have one of his star pupils geared up, gassed up, and ready to go this Saturday. Although he has shown the talent before, in the Los Alamitos Futurity and by running second to Good Magic in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last November, the colt will not have an easy time of it in the 11/16-mile test.
Solomini is expected to draw a field of eight to 10 other challengers, most of which have already started this year. Some of the expected contestants that are scheduled to enter, include:
- Sporting Chance, a well-bred son of Tiznow and trained by D. Wayne Lukas. This one ran a huge third, while troubled late, in his 2018 debut in the G3 Southwest Stakes over the Oaklawn dirt, and he has been stabled here all winter. Bigger things are expected on Saturday.
- Combatant, one of three that Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is considering for the event, ran second in the Southwest Stakes. He also ran second to Greyvitos in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park to end the 2017 campaign. He, too, is stabled at Oaklawn now after starting the winter at the Fair Grounds.
- Magnum Moon, a son of Malibu Moon was unraced as a 2-year-old, but has started this year with a bang, capturing both of his starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. He will be shipped over from South Florida for Saturday’s Stakes.
Unfortunately, the race will be held without the return of Mourinho, who was injury in his last workout at Santa Anita this past weekend, and had to be euthanized afterwards. He had won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn earlier this meet in convincing style, and many were looking for Baffert to bring him back to Arkansas for this weekend.
Instead, Team Baffert will try to honor Mourinho’s memory with a win from his stablemate, Solomini. That would be a welcome site for his race fans.