DEL MAR, Calif.— “That was exciting,” trainer Bob Baffert exclaimed soon after Laurel River ran off with a 3 ¾ length victory in the G2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar Saturday. Baffert said Sunday the 4-year-old son of Into Mischief came out of the race in good order and will be pointed to G1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita October 1.
“I was honestly thinking about running him in the Pacific Classic,” Baffert said, “but I would only do it if Flightline wasn’t in the race.”
Laurel River came into the race off of a solid allowance win on July 31 at Del Mar. Before that, he had not run since the end of last summer’s meet at Del Mar.
“I gotta give a lot of credit to the Juddmonte family and Garrett O’Rourke for letting me keep this horse during all the turmoil we went through. I think he’s a really good horse. He needed the extra time, we gave him the extra time, then we got that race into him.”
With the win in yesterday’s Pat O’Brien, Laurel River secures a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland on November 5, which Baffert believes is right in the horse’s wheelhouse.
“He’s going to be much more effective going two turns,” Baffert said.
The O’Brien favorite, Speaker’s Corner, looked the part through much of the race. He broke well and had a good position, setting a forced pace. But when confronted by Laurel River at the top of the lane, he had no answer and eventually faded to fourth. Amy Mullin, assistant trainer to Bill Mott, says they have no excuses.
“I’m not sure, he was really relaxed in the post parade,” Mullin said, “but it seemed like once he got to the gate he got real tense and difficult in the gate and that might of taken off the edge that he needed and didn’t have.”
Speaker’s Corner shipped in from the east coast for the O’Brien but Mullin doesn’t think the travel had anything to do with the performance.
“He was training well and behaving good,” Mullin said.
She says Speaker’s Corner came out of the race good. They’ll fly back to New York on Tuesday and the Mott team will then sit down and decide what to do next with the 4-year-old son of Street Sense.
The runner-up in the Pat O’Brien, American Theorem, also came out of the race no worse for wear.
“He ran huge, we just got beat,” trainer George Papaprodromou said. “He (Laurel River) got the jump on us. He went through the rail, we had to go a little wider but my horse ran his race. I’m happy with it and most important he came back good.”
Papaprodromou says he will train American Theorem up to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which he earned a spot in with his victory in the G1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar on opening weekend.
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Laurel River wins the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien (Benoit)