Trainer Bob Baffert first rose to prominence at Los Alamitos Race Course when he was a quarter-horse trainer more than three decades ago. Now running some of the best thoroughbreds in the country, things haven’t changed much for him at the Orange County track.
Saturday, he won both the Grade 2 $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity with colt Thousand Words and followed that up with Bast winning the Grade 1 $300,000 Starlet for fillies. Both are qualifying races for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
It was Baffert’s 12th win in the Futurity and sixth in a row at Los Alamitos. The race was previously run at Hollywood Park until its closing. It was his sixth win in the Starlet and third consecutive year he has swept both races. In fact, he won five races, all consecutive, on the nine-race card on Saturday. He said he thought he did it once before when training quarter horses at Prescott Downs in Arizona in 1982.
“I thought all five of these horses were live,” Baffert said. “But usually that means you’re lucky if you win one. You never know. It worked out well.”
Thousand Words put himself squarely on the Kentucky Derby trail winning his second race in two starts. The win gave him 10 Derby points. Generally, it takes points in the mid-30s to make the race.
The Futurity had only four starters with short fields being a reason the race was dropped from a Grade 1 to Grade 2 this year. He ran near the lead in the 1 1/16-mile race and poked his head in front entering the stretch. However, Anneau d’Or, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, wouldn’t back down. The winning margin was a neck.
“When I saw [Anneau d’Or], I thought, ‘Oh no, he’s going to catch us,’” Baffert said. “But [Thousand Words] was game. When that horse came to him, he took off and when he came back after the race he wasn’t even [breathing] hard. Distance isn’t going to be a problem. That’s impressive when they can win like that second time out.”
Thousand Words paid $5.40 and $2.40. There was no show wagering. High Velocity, also trained by Baffert, was third and Wrecking Crew was fourth.
In the Starlet, Bast beat heavily favored Donna Veloce, who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Bast, who was third in the Juvenile Fillies, led from the gate but felt pressure from Donna Veloce the entire 1 1/16 mile race. The winning margin was half-a-length.
Bast paid $6.40 and $2.10. There was no show betting in the five-horse race. Donna Veloce was second followed by K P Dreamin, Gingham and Roadrunner’s Honor. It was Bast’s third win in five starts, all Grade 1 victories.
There were high expectations going into their racing careers as Thousand Words was a $1 million purchase and Bast cost $500,000.