Johannes Weathers Hill and Bumps for Baffle Score

March 5, 2023

Yakteen stays hot as his Johannes overcomes rough trip to take $100,000 Baffle Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.—Fresh off victory in yesterday’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, trainer Tim Yakteen’s Johannes altered tactics and overcame a rough trip to take Sunday’s $100,000 Baffle Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths. Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, the 3-year-old colt by Nyquist got about 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:13.07.

A nine-length runaway maiden winner going six furlongs out of Santa Anita’s turf chute on Dec. 31, Johannes settled off the pace today and was next to last in a field of nine sophomores, three lengths off the lead approaching the dirt crossing at the top of the lane.

As the field transitioned back to turf for the stretch run, Johannes was bumped hard from his outside and force to steady as come-from-behinder Mi Hermano Ramon raced erratically. Undaunted, both Rispoli and his mount kept to their task and Johannes went on to provide Yakteen with his second stakes win of the weekend. 

“The race was loaded with speed, obviously it wasn’t the cleanest of trips, but he got the job done,” said Yakteen. “He is a super gifted horse, I’m just so happy for Debbie McCloskey and Joe. They bred the horse and have been great supporters of mine.

“The way he ran today is very encouraging. He rated, you know, he’s been a very fast horse in the morning, but along with that, he’s shown us a turn of foot. Until you run them down the hill or around two turns, you don’t really know, but the way he did it today, like I say, is very encouraging.”

A virtual gate to wire maiden winner on the flat, Johannes was bet down to the 3-2 favorite and paid $5.00, $3.20 and $2.80.

Owned and bred is by Joseph and Debbie McCloskey’s Cuyathy, LLC, Johannes is out of their Congrats mare Cuyathy. With today’s win, she is now 2-0-1 from five starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, has earnings of $110,059.

“I was on the rail, trying to follow Johnny (Velazquez, aboard Wizard of Westwood) and honestly, I didn’t have anywhere to go. As we got across the (dirt), Flavien (Prat, aboard Malibu Coast) and I go for the same gap and then Johnny’s horse moved…I just restrained my mount and went for a gap opening and the horse did the rest.”

Off at 26-1, Wizard of Westwood far outran his odds and finished second by a neck over front-running Helladic and paid $17.80 and $8.80.

Helladic, off at 10-1 with Frankie Dettori, paid $5.80 to show.

Fractions on the race were 21.57, 43.74 and 1:07.10.

Umberto Rispoli after keeping Johannes on course for the win. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

$100,000, Baffle Stakes Quotes

Jockey Quotes

Umberto Rispoli, Johannes, Winner: “I’ve had three wins out of four rides in the Baffle. When I first came here (2020) the hill was closed, so we ran out of the chute at five and a half, and I won a year ago with Maglev, at six and a half, now this time at six and a half down the hill, the Baffle is my race. I wish it will be a Grade I one day.

“I was on the rail, trying to follow Johnny (Velazquez, aboard Wizard of Westwood) and honestly, I didn’t have anywhere to go. As we got to cross the dirt, Flavien (Prat, aboard Malibu Coast) and I go for the same gap and then Johnny’s horse moved…I just restrained my mount, and I went for a gap opening and the horse did the rest.” 

Trainer Quotes

Tim Yakteen, Johannes, Winner: “The way he ran today is very encouraging. He rated, you know, he’s been a very fast horse in the morning, but along with that, he’s shown us a turn of foot. Until you run them down the hill or around two turns, you don’t really know, but the way he did it today, like I say, is very encouraging.

“I left it up to Umberto. The race was loaded with speed, obviously it wasn’t the cleanest of trips, but he got the job done. He is a super gifted horse, I’m just so happy for Debbie McCloskey and Joe they bred the horse and they have been great supporters of mine. We are looking forward to running him again. These horses are the horses why you come to the barn in the morning.

“In my trophy cabinet, I haven’t built one yet, so I need to get one.”

Owner Quotes

Debbie Mccloskey, Johannes, Winner: “We love the mother, and we love this one. We love all our horses, but we are very pleased with this one.”

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