July 16, 2024

Justify’s undefeated Parenting displays authority in Affirmed

Parenting lays down the law in the Affirmed
Parenting lays down the law in the Affirmed (Photo by Benoit Photo)

As the 2024 Triple Crown concluded with a muddled picture among the three-year-old males, the door is open for a late bloomer. Gandharvi’s Parenting indicated that he could be ready, willing, and able to step forward with a resounding stakes debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed S. at Santa Anita.

Trained by Bob Baffert like his Triple Crown-winning sire Justify, the May 8 foal sold for $750,000 as an OBS April juvenile. But Parenting didn’t make it to the races last season. The strong-bodied bay was finally unveiled on April 26 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden, where he argued the pace before drawing 2 3/4 lengths clear.

Parenting handled the hike in both class and distance in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed. Moreover, the 4-5 favorite took everything in stride, and kept his composure when challenged.

Under a returning Juan Hernandez, Parenting led through an opening quarter in :23.46. Then Scatify wanted to run up on the outside and assert himself through the half in :46.90. But Parenting didn’t feel the need to react hastily. Instead, he continued to lop along in his comfort zone until the time was right for him to respond.

On the far turn, Parenting regained control as Scatify was coming under pressure passing six furlongs in 1:10.77. Hernandez just gave him the signal, and the favorite cruised to a 7 1/2-length victory in 1:42.57.

Scatify retained the runner-up spot by 1 1/4 lengths from Baffert’s other runner, Cornell, who was outpaced in last at one stage before staying on for third. McVay, the 8-5 second choice, was a wide-trip fourth, and Miracle Mark trailed in the five-horse field.

“He wanted to take the lead,” Hernandez said, “so I just let him go. Then he relaxed really well. I was a little worried because he came off a 5 1/2-furlong race, and they went really fast in the beginning. But he relaxed really well. He is really smart horse, so he made it easy on himself. When I asked him around the far turn, he picked it up and started to go. He took off really well.”

Baffert said that he left it up to Hernandez to work out the trip.

“This was his first time going long, and he has speed. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” Baffert said of Parenting. “The first turn comes up quick, so I just told Juan, ‘Do what you do, ride like Juan.’ Juan is great out of the gate. He gets them into the race. We knew there was going to be pressure from the outside horse, but I think he just showed how talented he is.

“At the three-eighths pole, you really find out how good they really are. My other horse (Cornell), he really needed the out, he came running late, so I’m proud of him.

“We have been waiting to get Parenting to go this far and there’s really no allowance races for him. This stake just came up perfectly for him. We are proud of him, and it is nice to have a nice fresh three-year-old for the summer campaign.”

Also in the postrace interview, Millie Ball asked Baffert about Parenting’s recent works.

“His work last time, he didn’t like being on the outside,” Baffert revealed of his June 2 drill that was officially recorded as a bullet six furlongs in 1:11. “He was trailing a horse and he wasn’t comfortable. We were teaching him to stay with him, but he was working with a nice horse (twice-raced maiden Canada Gate).

“They went seven-eighths in 1:24, and it takes a really good horse to do that. It takes a nice horse like National Treasure to get a 1:24 here. I mean the top horses, Flightline, he would work 1:24. But Parenting could do it; he is pretty good.”

Parenting, now 2-for-2 with $92,400 in his account, was bred by Jason Hall and BCS Thoroughbreds in Kentucky. His dam, the Lemon Drop Kid mare Iadorakid, is a half-sister to Canadian champion turf male El Tormenta as well as Grade 3-winning turf sprinter Zero Tolerance.

This is also the family of another smart three-year-old, Ramjet, who’s riding a four-race winning streak in Japan. Since taking the Hyacinth S. on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, Ramjet has enhanced his portfolio with victories in the Unicorn (G3) and the June 5 Tokyo Derby by six lengths.

Parenting and Ramjet descend from Canadian Hall of Famer and influential matron Classy n’ Smart.