A late nominee to the Triple Crown, Uncle Chuck will try to earn points toward a Kentucky Derby berth when he makes his stakes debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G3). The Bob Baffert-trained colt generated a buzz when opening his racing career with a seven-length romp in a two-turn maiden race at Santa Anita on June 12.
A five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer, Hall of Famer Baffert has won a record nine editions of the Los Alamitos Derby (formerly the Swaps Stakes), but the 1 1/16-mile race has never been a Kentucky Derby qualifier. With the Run for the Roses being delayed until Sept. 5, the Los Alamitos Derby will award points on a 20-8-4-2 scale to the top four finishers as a new addition to the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
By Uncle Mo, Uncle Chuck cost $250,000 as a yearling and the dark bay colt overcame a slow start in his lone start, quickly recovering to lead wire-to-wire. With Mike Smith being at Belmont Park Saturday, Luis Saez will be in to ride Uncle Chuck.
Baffert will also send out Thousand Words. A back-to-back winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Robert B. Lewis (G3) over the winter, the $1 million Pioneerof the Nile colt will try to rebound following unplaced finishes in the San Felipe (G2) and Oaklawn Stakes. Flavien Prat rides.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Los Alamitos Futurity runner-up Anneau d’Or is also seeking a measure redemption after opening this year with three consecutive unplaced efforts versus stakes foes. Based in Northern California with Blaine Wright, the son of Medaglia d’Oro will be piloted by Victor Espinoza.
Great Power exits a third to the now-sidelined Charlatan in a Mar. 14 allowance at Santa Anita, and the maiden Cosmo rounds out the field.