Bob Baffert’s Taiba, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, wins Pennsylvania Derby
Taiba, runaway winner of the Santa Anita Derby, picked up his second Grade 1 win when he won Saturday’s $1-million Pennsylvania Derby. The 3-year-old son of Gun Runner assumed a stalking position for the most of the 1-1/8-mile race at Parx near Philadelphia before coming off the rail and going to the center of the track entering the stretch and winning the race by three lengths.
Taiba increased his winnings to just more than $1.2 million, getting closer to his $1.7-million purchase price as a 2-year-old. He is owned by Amr Zedan, who owned disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, and is trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith.
He beat a quality field in a race that included four other Kentucky Derby entrants.
Tim Yakteen, taking over from trainer Bob Baffert, qualified both Taiba and Messier for the Kentucky Derby, the former winning the Santa Anita Derby in just his second start. Favorite Forbidden Kingdom faded to last place.
Taiba was the favorite and paid $4.80, $3.00 and $2.60. Zandon, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, finished second and Cyberknife, winner of the Arkansas Derby and Haskell Stakes, was third. The rest of the field, in order of finish, was Simplification, White Abarrio, B Dawk, Naval Aviator, We the People, Skippylongstocking, Tawny Port and Icy Storm.
“That was exciting,” Baffert told the Parx media staff. “He did it. He ran his race. He is getting better and better. … He proved he is a good horse. It was his last chance to run a Grade 1 against 3-year-olds and it was a tough race, a good field.
“I was a little worried when he was down on the inside because he doesn’t like being on the inside. When he tipped to the outside, he just took off.”
Taiba broke onto the scene with a maiden win by 7½ lengths at Santa Anita. At that point he needed points to get into the Kentucky Derby and Baffert was not able to acquire Derby points because of a dispute with Churchill Downs over the validity of Medina Spirit’s win after a positive drug test. Taiba was moved to the barn of Tim Yakteen, who guided him to a major victory in only his second race.
The Bruins dominated from start to finish, with Charbonnet scoring three touchdowns and Laiatu Latu leading a smothering defensive effort.
Yakteen then took Taiba to the Kentucky Derby where he finished 12th.
After Baffert returned from his 90-day suspension stemming from the Medina Spirit positive test, Taiba was moved back to the Hall of Fame trainer and finished second to Cyberknife by a head in the Haskell Stakes following a very difficult trip.
Baffert said, “If all is good,” Taiba’s next race may be the Breeder’s Cup Classic, a tough chore considering the competition from older horses.
“I’m not looking forward to running against Life Is Good and Flightline,” he said. “Those are two very fast horses.”
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