The Bob Baffert trained Dortmund makes his much-anticipated stakes debut on Saturday afternoon in the $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), the 4-5 morning line favorite in a compact field of five.
The race will be run for the first time at Los Alamitos after being run as the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013) at the now closed Hollywood Park.
Baffert won six editions of the Futurity when it was run at Hollywood Park (1997, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2009 and 2011).
The winner earns 10 points as the race is part of the “Road to the Derby” series, with the top 20 in points earning automatic starting spots in the gate for the 2015 Run for the Roses.
Dortmund overtook his stablemate American Pharoah in early Derby betting, bet down to 9-1 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closed on Nov. 30. The colt is currently listed at 16-1 in early Derby wagering at Bovada.
The colt was no secret when he made his debut on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, sent off as the 6-5 betting favorite and he did not disappoint, earning a 81 Beyer in a 4 ¾ length victory going 6 ½ furlongs.
Baffert shipped him to Churchill Downs for his first start against winners, and he beat first level allowance optional claimers by 7 ¾ lengths going a one-turn mile, earning a 97 Beyer. By comparison, Texas Red earned a 104 for his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
The $140,000 purchase is by 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and out of the stakes winning mare Our Josephine.
Of the four he faces on Saturday, Mr. Z may be the biggest threat. A winner of just one of seven starts, his maiden win in his debut, he has landed in the bottom half of the exacta in three graded stakes.
He ran second in Sanford (G3) and Saratoga Special (G2) this summer at the Spa and was second to Carpe Diem in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland.
The D. Wayne Lukas trainee is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, with Mike Smith taking the call.
Firing Line (3-1) ran second in his debut as the 6-5 chalk in his debut on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. He was beaten a half-length by Alright Alright, who returned to run second in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) in his next outing on Nov. 15 at Del Mar.
The $240,000 purchase broke his maiden in sharp fashion in his second career start at Del Mar over polytrack going 6 ½ furlongs by 4 ¼ lengths. Smith rode him in both of his starts and gets a new jockey in Rafael Bejarano.
No Problem (8-1) will be sent out by former Todd Pletcher assistant Mike McCarthy. The ridgling won the Bob Hope Stakes last out in an upset at 17-1 after breaking his maiden two back for a $75,000 tag.
Victor Espinosa has the return call on the son of Munnings and the first foal to race out of an Orientate mare.
The field is completed by Bench Warrant (15-1), who broke his maiden in his debut on poly and ran third against first level optional claimers in his last outing at Del Mar going six furlongs. The John Sadler trainee tries two turns for the first time. He has a decent pedigree, out of the stakes winner Ola Docura ($87,758).
Selections: Not much of a betting race unless you want to take Dortmund at 16-1 in future Derby betting at Bovada. The colt should get the job done here. Firing Line appears to have some upside and another move forward lands him in the bottom half of the exacta.
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