Cupid, making his stakes debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, gave the conditioner his sixth win in the past seven renewals of Oaklawn's $900,000 Rebel (G2) on Saturday, wiring 13 rivals under Martin Garcia.
Well-backed as the 5-2 second choice, Cupid broke a bit tardily but was rushed to the front to establish splits of :22.96, :46.82 and 1:12.11. In the stretch, Cupid was strongly challenged by Whitmore, who appeared poise to run by, but dug deep and broke off again to capture the 1 1/16-mile event by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:43.84, a faster time than the Azeri (G2) and Razorback H. (G2) for older horses earlier in the card.
Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derek Smith, Cupid paid $7.80 and earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1) as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Whitmore, who was also second in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn last month, was second best and earned 20 points. Finishing third with a late rally was last-out maiden winner Creator, who earned 10 points, while Cherry Wine earned five points for his fourth-place finish.
A gray son of Tapit purchased for $900,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, Cupid joins a list of Baffert-trained winners that includes Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, champion Lookin at Lucky, and future Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) winner Secret Circle.
Cupid has now earned $587,500 from a line of 4-2-1-0. Fourth in his debut at Los Alamitos in December, he improved slightly to finish second in his next start at Santa Anita. Last time at that track, in his two-turn debut, Cupid romped by 5 1/4 lengths over maiden foes going 1 1/16 miles.