Trainer Bob Baffert had two opportunities to secure a record-setting eighth victory in Saturday’s Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) thanks to Mor Spirit and Toews on Ice.
The conditioner not only got the win but ended up with the exacta in the $350,500 contest after Mor Spirit ran down his stablemate in the lane to post a 1 1/4-length victory as the 3-5 favorite.
It was the first stakes win for Mor Spirit, but the Pennsylvania-bred took home something far more valuable than that. The Los Alamitos Futurity is the final 2015 Road to the Kentucky Derby points race and awarded Mor Spirit 10 points toward a starting berth in next year’s Run for the Roses.
Toews on Ice was hoping to earn those points as he followed Frank Conversation to the front of the field when the gates opened. The Archarcharch colt remained latched onto that one’s flank through splits of :23.09, :47.12 and 1:11.53.
Meanwhile, Mor Spirit was more than a little headstrong entering the first turn. Jockey Gary Stevens finally got the son of Eskendereya to settle at the head of backstretch and the pair took up a stalking spot behind the two leaders while three-to-four wide.
Toews on Ice grabbed command of the race entering the turn and held the lead in the lane, but Mor Spirit was just beginning his rally rounding the final bend.
Continuing to grind away, the dark bay ridgling came over a little bit as he drew alongside his barnmate before being straightened out and motoring on past. Mor Spirit prevailed in a final time of 1:43.54 for 1 1/16 miles over Los Alamitos’ fast main track.
Prior to 2014, the Los Alamitos Futurity was run at Hollywood Park, where Baffert took home six trophies. When Hollywood closed and the race moved to Los Alamitos, the Hall of Fame conditioner captured last year’s edition with Dortmund.
Now, Mor Spirit has added to Baffert’s tally in the race. Previous winners include Pioneerof the Nile and Lookin at Lucky, who both went on as three-year-olds to take the Preakness S. (G1).
Mor Spirit will attempt to continue the classic-winning tradition but not just in the Preakness. In addition to Saturday’s 10 points, the ridgling already boasted four points thanks to a runner-up effort at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) last out. That experience under the Twin Spires could come in handy on the first Saturday in May 2016.
The Kentucky Jockey Club followed a 4 1/2-length maiden victory and runner-up effort in Mor Spirit’s initial start, both at Santa Anita Park. From the same female family as Grade 1 victress and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) second Stellar Wind, he’s accumulated $288,400 in lifetime earnings thus far.
Toews on Ice may not have gotten the 10 points, but he did join the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with four thanks to his runner-up effort in this spot. I’malreadythere received two points for finishing in third, sixth lengths behind Toews on Ice, while Urlacher garnered one point for fourth.