Baffert Collects Final Souvenir of Meeting


Considering how the meeting had gone, the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity had a fitting conclusion.

A 2-year-old trained by Bob Baffert won the Grade II race, the traditional closing-day feature.

However, the youngster who provided Baffert with his 13th victory with a 2-year-old and 27th win overall here wasn't the more fancied of his two entrants.

Souvenir Copy, the third longest shot in the field of eight at 12-1, overcame a troubled trip to beat 7-5 favorite Old Topper by the slimmest of noses in 1:23 for the seven furlongs.

In giving Baffert his second consecutive victory in the Futurity--Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm prevailed last year--the dark bay son of Mr. Prospector gave owners John and Betty Mabee their fourth victory in the race this decade, after victories by Best Pal, River Special and Winning Pact.

"That was an adventure," winning jockey Chris McCarron said. "It wasn't the best of trips. Fortunately, he was the best horse out there. As soon as he had an opportunity to go [when a hole developed in the stretch], he went.

"This was an impressive race for him. He's certainly well bred and it's more impressive when a young horse has to overcome adversity the way he did today."

Next up for Souvenir Copy, a full brother to Gold Tribute, who was second in the 1996 Futurity, will be the Norfolk Stakes next month at Santa Anita. That will be his first venture around two turns.

Old Topper, who finished four lengths ahead of Souvenir Copy when winning the Best Pal last month, finished a neck in front of Commitisize, Baffert's other participant who bobbled at the start. Then came Double Honor, King Of The Wild, Yarrow Brae, Tryumphant and Winged Express.

"He ran well," Alex Solis said of the favorite. "We had to come from way back. It's his style. I can't change it, it's just the way he goes."

Horse Racing Notes

Bob Baffert's 27 victories are the most by a trainer at Del Mar since Farrell Jones had 35 in 1963. . . . With two victories Wednesday, Kent Desormeaux surpassed Alex Solis and won the jockey title, 40-39. It ended a streak of six consecutive titles on the local circuit (Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar) for Solis. . . . Heavily favored Best Star overcame a poor start to win the $75,000-added El Cajon Stakes, beating Adverse and Steel Ruhlr. Owned by John and Betty Mabee's Golden Eagle Farm and trained by Baffert, Best Star was ridden by Desormeaux and completed the mile in 1:36 1/5. He has won four of five. . . . Naninja, the 2-1 favorite, won the $75,000-added Live The Dream, setting a course record for the mile on grass. He ran the distance under Chris McCarron in 1:33 4/5, bettering the 1:34 by Slew Of Damascus on July 29, 1993.

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