DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Bob Baffert has Sunday’s Grade III Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar surrounded.
The white-haired, Hall of Fame conditioner has not one, not two, but three of the five 2-year-olds in the lineup for the seven-furlong headliner that carries a $100,000 purse. It will go as the day’s 8th race on a nine-race program that has a first post of 12:30 p.m.
Baffert is the king of the 2-year-old set at Del Mar – and he’s some degree of royalty at other tracks around the country in that regard, too. By way of example locally, he’s won Del Mar’s top race for 2-year-olds, the Del Mar Futurity, 14 times. When it comes to the Bob Hope, which has been run locally seven times, Baffert has headed to the winner’s circle after it four times already.
Here’s the full field in post-position order with riders and morning line odds:
Messier (Flavien Prat, 8/5); Kamui (Abel Cedillo, 5/2); Winning Map (Mike Smith, 7/5); Rock N Rye (Umberto Rispoli, 15-1), and Forbidden Kingdom (Juan Hernandez, 9/2).
Favored Winning Map has run only once, but, not surprisingly, it was a dandy. The gray colt by Liam’s Map scooted six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:10.20 on October 3 to win by better than four lengths at 2-5. He’s put in a series of solid works since.
Messier clicked by more than six lengths in his second start October 22 at Santa Anita in the same 1:10.20 for six furlongs. He’s a bay colt by Empire Maker.
Stablemate Kamui, a Quality Road offspring, was a six-length winner at Los Alamitos on September 11 in his most recent outing.
Forbidden Kingdom, a son of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, scored at first asking at Del Mar on August 21, then came back to run third in the Speakeasy Stakes on the grass at Santa Anita on October 1. He’s trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella.
Del Mar Press Release
Photo: Winning Map breaking his maiden on first asking at Santa Anita on Oct. 3 under John Velazquez. (Benoit Photos)