(Bob Baffert, trainer of McKinzie and Justify)

Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks and training facilities all over North America. We are searching for those horses that appear to be peaking at just the right time and may be sitting on a top performance in the afternoons. Some of the horses that we watch and track, you will know. Others, though, you may not recognize — yet. Here is a closer look at some of today’s morning glories:

  1. Heart to Heart, now a 7YO son of English Channel and winner of his first Grade 1 race in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes in his last outing on Feb. 10, was back on the track this morning for trainer Brian Lynch. He went a half mile over the grass course at Palm Meadows Training Center in a brisk time of :47.75, which was the bullet work out of 8 to go that distance.
  2. Peace, a 3YO son of Violence who is trained by Richard Mandella, ran 4th in his last race — the G2 San Felipe Stakes on March 10.  He was well beaten that day, but the three in front of him happen to be Bolt d’Oro, McKinzie, and Kathanka — three of the leading contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby. It will be interesting to see where he goes next, and whether he will still try to make the first Saturday in May. Today, the colt breezed 3-furlongs at Santa Anita in :36.60, which was the 6th best time out of 36 to go that far. Worth watching.
  3. Call West is a 3Yo colt by Street Sense that you may want to put in your stable mail and watch for his next coming appearance in the afternoon. The colt, trained by Bob Baffert, broke his maiden in impressive fashion on March 10 at Santa Anita, running off to an easy 21/4-length victory over seven rivals while racing 61/2 furlongs on the dirt. The colt was bred by Godolphin, and now runs for the team of Gary and Mary West. Watch out here. Call wWest worked this morning at Santa Anita, moving 4-furlongs in :48.80 — which was 41st of 103.
  4. Congnitive is a nice 3YO filly by Uncle Mo, who may turn out to be a really good one for trainer Bob Baffert. She won on debut in January, and came back to run a game third in an allowance at the “Great Race Place” on March 1. This one could turn out to be a Stakes contender in the near future.
  5. Dark Vader, who ran third to Lombo in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in his last out, worked at Santa Anita this morning for trainer Peter Eurton. The son of Tale of Ekati moved a half mile in :47.40, which was the 5th best time out of 103 to go the distance. He won two starts back to break his maiden and now appears to be moving up the class latter.
  6. Justify, the 3YO colt that the world loves to talk about, gave the racing world something to chat up again today. The colt worked a half mile at Santa Anita in a brilliant :46.40, which was the bullet work out of 103. The son of Scat Daddy, trained by Bob Baffert, is a perfect 2-for-2 and looks to be heading on dead aim toward the Kentucky Derby. In addition to 19 others that he may face in the Derby, Justify will have to defeat the “Apollo Curse” — since he didn’t make the starting gate until he was a 3YO. It has been 134 years since a horse — Apollo — has won the Derby without having made at least one start as a juvenile. The key for Baffert and his star pupil now is to gather points for the Derby Design.  He will start next, perhaps, in the Arkansas Derby or the  Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
  7. McKinzie, who won the San Felipe Stakes before being disqualified by the stewards for interference in the late stretch, was back on the track at Santa Anita today for Team Baffert. He went a half mile in :47.80, which was the 10th best time out of the 103. This guy proved his mettle in the San Felipe. He is set for a rematch with Bolt door in the Sanita Anita Derby. This is one game sucker.
  8. Vale Dori, who had 4 wins and 2 seconds in Graded Stakes races last year for Baffert, worked at Santa Anita today. She went a half mile in :48.80, which was 41st of 103. It was her first try over the Santa Anita main track since moving into Team Baffert’s headquarters from Los Alamitos.