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Trainer Bob Baffert has the favorite (again) in the first race at Los Alamitos

Trainer Bob Baffert watches a workout in 2016 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

The road to the Kentucky Derby goes through the Los Alamitos Derby for the first time Saturday, and it should be no surprise that trainer Bob Baffert has the favorite.

Baffert has won this race nine times, including five when it was known as the Swaps Stakes. Baffert has won it the last three years. In 2014, the race moved from Hollywood Park to Los Alamitos.

Uncle Chuck is the 6-5 morning-line favorite, the result of a seven-length win in his first race at Santa Anita on June 12 and a purchase price of $250,000. Luis Saez will come in from New York to ride Uncle Chuck, whose regular jockey, Mike Smith, will be in New York to ride McKinzie in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Baffert also has the second favorite, Thousand Words, at 9-5. A $1-million purchase, he won his first three races before finishing fourth in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and then 11th as the favorite in the Oaklawn Stakes in Arkansas. Flavien Prat will ride. Saturday’s Grade 3 race will have five starters going 1 1/8 miles for a purse of $150,000.

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With the Kentucky Derby moving to Sept. 5, Los Alamitos will have two Kentucky Derby prep races for the first time this year.

The race will be worth 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, followed by 8-4-2 for the next three finishers. It would not be enough to guarantee a spot in the Kentucky Derby and the winner likely would have to accumulate more points in another Derby prep. Usually run in July, the Los Alamitos Derby is normally suited for late developing colts who were not ready in time for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. This year, because of the pandemic, the Kentucky Derby will be held Sept. 5.

The Saturday card also has the Grade 2 $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes for fillies and mares going 6½ furlongs. The favorite is Bellafina at 4-5. She has been running at a high stakes level, having won seven lifetime races and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The 4-year-old won the Santa Anita Oaks last year.

No spectators will be allowed at the track.


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