April 16, 2024

Spielberg keeps Los Al Futurity win streak for Baffert alive in final strides

Spielberg (outside), edges The Great One in the Los Alamitos Futurity © BENOIT PHOTO

The $250,500 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) remained the personal fiefdom of Bob Baffert on Saturday when Spielberg gave the Hall of Fame conditioner his seventh consecutive win in the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep and 13th victory in the 1 1/16-mile fixture overall.

It was a close-run thing, though, as Spielberg needed every inch of the long stretch to win the bob over long-time leader The Great One, a maiden who started at odds of 33-1. Petruchio was 3 1/2 lengths behind in third, while 9-10 favorite Red Flag was a dull fourth five lengths farther back. The order of finish was completed by Weston and Positivity.

“The outside was a good draw for him,” said winning jockey Flavien Prat. “He broke well and was able to relax. I thought we had it all the way down the stretch but it was close.”

A disappointing fourth behind Red Flag in last month’s Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar, Spielberg reversed form here and paid $5.80 after covering the course in 1:42.56 over a fast track. Spielberg is owned by the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm, and Robert Masterson.

“I knew he was going to run well because he had shipped well over here and he was really on it in the paddock,” Baffert said. “I’m just happy for everybody in the ownership group.”

This is not the first seven-stakes win streak Baffert has achieved in a 2-year-old stakes. He also captured the Del Mar Futurity seven straight times from 1996 through 2002, and has won that feature 14 times altogether.

As part of the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby series, Spielberg earned 10 qualifying points for next year’s classic, boosting his total to 12. The Great One earned four points, Petruchio two points, and Red Flag one point.

This was the second win from five starts for Spielberg, who finished second to Dr. Schivel in his first two outings, including the Del Mar Futurity. He then finished third in the American Pharoah (G1) prior to breaking his maiden at Del Mar on Nov. 1 by a neck. However, the quick two-week turnaround to the Bob Hope worked against the chestnut as he finished 9 1/2 lengths behind Red Flag. Spielberg has now earned $257,200.

“I thought it was an easy spot last time and he didn’t ship well. He got nervous when he got in the stall there and was just flat. We ran him back too quick,” Baffert said. “I asked Prat if there’s more there and he said there’s a lot more. I think he’ll get better with maturity. He’s a beautiful horse.”

Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Spielberg sold for $1 million at Keeneland September. By Union Rags and out of Miss Squeal, by Smart Strike, he hails from the female family of 1985 Belmont S. (G1) winner Crème Fraiche.