Bob Baffert Goes for 7 Los Al Futurity Titles

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Los Alamitos Futurity has been an important stop on the road to the Kentucky, even before the Grade II race moved to Los Al from Hollywood Park in 2014. At Hollywood it was known as... surprise, the Hollywood Futurity. The inaugural Futurity was won by STALWART in 1981. 

A half-dozen Futurity winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby, all of them from the Hollywood version. You might even recognize some of the names, FERDINAND (1986), ALYSHEBA (1987) and long shot GIACOMO was the last in 2005.

Since moving north to Los Alamitos in 2014, half of the Los Alamitos Futurity champs went on to race on the first Saturday of May, DORTMUND (2014), MOR SPIRIT (2015) and IMPROBABLE (2018). DORTMUND has the best KD finish of the three, coming in third. IMPROBABLE was bumped into fourth after MAXIMUM SECURITY was DQd in 2019.

While Los Alamitos Futurity winners have a difficult time finding Churchill Downs' winner's circle on Derby Day, trainer Bob Baffert has taken up residency in the Los Al Futurity's winner's circle. The white-haired trainer has won all of them since 2014.

SPIELBERG (PP: 6 ML 5/2) is Baffert's chance to keep squatters' rights on the Los Alamitos winner's circle. The $1 million son of UNION RAGS fresh off a disappointing loss as the 3/5 favorite in the Grade III, Bob Hope stakes at Del Mar. The good news is SPIELBERG is getting a jockey upgrade to Flavien Pratt, who won this race last year on THOUSAND WORDS, and Baffert wins at a decent 24% the next time out with beaten favorites.

The bad news is even-money, morning line favorite RED FLAG (PP: 1) smoked the Bob Hope field by 7 ¼ lengths. However, RED FLAD ran a speed figure in the Bob Hope way above the pair of numbers he put in the books for his first two starts. Is the 17-point Equibase speed figure bump an outlier or the new normal for the two-year-old? If you've been around here long enough, then you know the babies are unpredictable, in our view.

RED FLAG improved from race to race to race in his first three. If he continues up the ladder here, he wins again, just don't be surprised if he bounces. We won't.

Looking at the other four horses in this race, we see THE GREAT ONE (PP: 3 ML 15-1) got his butt whipped by SPEILBERG in THE GREAT ONE's only race of three on dirt. WESTON (PP: 4 ML 10-1) was another RED FLAG victim in the Bob Hope, fifth of six, a distant 17 lengths behind in a 7 furlong race. He also finished behind SPEILBERG in the Del Mar Futurity. He put in a bullet work on the December 12th and is making his second start after a layoff. So, maybe WESTON closes the gap on the two favorites here.

Three-time Futurity winner, jockey Mike Smith (two at Los Al and one at Hollywood) rides PETRUCHIO (PP: 2 ML 4-1). Smith guided the horse to its maiden win last out in the jock's first go around the track with PETRUCHIO. The horse improved race after race in his first four, the last two of which were on grass. Trainer Richard Mandella moved his horse to the barn since winning on Halloween 2020. His workouts since have been blah, but Smith knows how to win this race and figures to have PETRUCHIO in position to finish in the money at the wire.

That leaves POSITIVITY (PP: 5 ML 8-1). He's only raced three times, winning his first couple before a second-place effort, beaten by just 3/4s in his last. Fractions were dull in his runner up race despite posting a tie for the second highest speed figure achieved by this group. POSITIVITY could take a step forward in his second outing after a three-month layoff. If he does, he's the most likely to take this race from the two favorites.


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