Saturday’s $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) attracted only four runners, but the Kentucky Derby qualifier promises to be an exciting race. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Or and unbeaten Bob Hope (G3) winner High Velocity are the main contenders in the 1 1/16-mile event.
The $300,000 Starlet (G1), a Kentucky Oaks qualifier, serves as the co-feature at Los Alamitos. Donna Veloce is the one to beat among five runners after missing by a neck in second as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
A smashing eight-length debut winner on the turf at Golden Gate Fields, Anneau d’Or made a seamless transition to dirt when finishing a head second in the November 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. By Medaglia d’Oro and out of a Tapit mare, the $480,000 two-year-old purchase rallied from just off the pace last time and registered a field-best 102 BRIS Speed rating. The Blaine Wright trainee retains the services of Juan Hernandez, and Anneau d’Or will break from the rail post.
High Velocity is one of two in the field for Hall of Fame trainer and five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who will seek to extend his record with a 12th Futurity win. A son of Quality Road, High Velocity rolled to a two-length score when making his debut at Santa Anita in mid-October. He came back to lead wire to wire in the Bob Hope a month later, scoring by a 1 ½-length margin, and Drayden Van Dyke has the call.
Baffert will also send out Thousand Words, who captured his first start by a half-length as the 6-5 favorite at Santa Anita in late October. The Pioneerof the Nile colt adds blinkers and Flavien Prat guides. Wrecking Crew completes the field. Second in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Best Pal (G2), the son of Sky Kingdom exits a non-threatening third at 39-1 odds in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Abel Cedeno will be up for Peter Miller.
Donna Veloce did not break sharply from a tricky rail post in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but she settled just off the pace and made a bold move to the lead in upper stretch. The daughter of Uncle Mo eventually gave way late, but the $800,000 two-year-old purchase distinguished herself in defeat and should be a solid favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Starlet. Prat rides back for Simon Callaghan.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies third-placer Bast, winner of the Chandelier (G1) and Del Mar Debutante (G1), is the top challenger. Van Dyke has the mount for Baffert. Chandelier third-placer K P Dreamin will try to bounce back from an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup, and maiden winners Gingham and Roadrunner’s Hope round out the contingent.
The qualifiers offer points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.