Saturday, May 18, 2024

Reincarnate gives Bob Baffert his seventh straight Los Alamitos Derby win

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Death, political debates on social media and Bob Baffert winning the Los Alamitos Derby.  The Hall of Fame trainer has practically owned the race since it was transferred from Hollywood Park to Los Alamitos in 2014, and the 10th running was no different Saturday.

Reincarnate, the even-money favorite who was freshened coming off a 13th-place showing in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, gave Baffert his seventh consecutive victory in the race, formerly known as the Swaps Stakes when run at Hollywood Park, and eighth in the past nine editions.

Jockey Juan Hernandez, who swept the three stakes races run during the nine-day L.A. County Fair meet that ends Sunday, was aboard for the victory and has ridden the Good Magic colt in two of his three lifetime victories. He broke sharply, carved out fractions of 23.23, 47.75 and 1:11.99 while going gate to wire and finished the mile and an eighth in 1:48.72.

“I loved his race,” Hernandez said. “He broke really, really sharp. He was comfortable all the way.”

Baffert, who used the Los Alamitos Derby as a prep for West Coast before he won the Travers Stakes in 2017, has similar plans with Reincarnate, who’s been a model of consistency throughout his nine starts. He’s finished off the board only once and improved his bankroll to $420,650 with the winner’s check Saturday for $75,000.

“We’d like to do the same with this colt (run in the Travers),” Baffert said. “I told (Juan) that he was back to how he was when he won the Sham (Jan. 8 at Santa Anita). It was very important to get the win with him, especially when you know how good Skinner is.”

Skinner, who was scratched the day before the Kentucky Derby when he spiked a fever and again before the Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 4 when trainer John Shirreffs reportedly didn’t like the way he galloped preparing for the race, went postward as the 6-5 second choice and closed for second under Mike Smith, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

“These stakes races always come up tough in California,” Baffert said. “We’re like the SEC (Southeastern Conference) out here.”

Hernandez had a ton of horse underneath him the whole way.

“He looked like he was just waiting for company because he put his ears up,” he said. “When the company came around the three-eighths pole, I asked him and he picked it up really well. In the stretch he switched leads and he opened up again. Bob had him ready today.”

Skinner, third in the Santa Anita Derby, held second by 2 1/2 lengths over 23-1 longshot Prince Abu Dhabi. Abeliefinthislivin and Smart Mo completed the order of finish in a field shortened to five with the scratch of Yellow Brick.

Ramon Vazquez has virtually clinched his fourth consecutive Los Alamitos riding title heading into the final day of the meet. He has nine victories and is scheduled to ride in five of Sunday’s 10 races. Only Geovanni Franco, who has five victories and is slated to ride five horses Sunday, has an outside chance to tie or catch Vazquez.

In the trainers’ race, Baffert, who won two races Saturday, leads with five victories, one more than Peter Miller, Hector Palma, Jesus Uranga and Milton Pineda.

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