Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill 'n' Dale Farms at XalapaGulfstream Park
Trainer Bob Baffert ran his record number of wins in the Pat O’Brien Stakes to eight Aug.
Trainer Bob Baffert ran his record number of wins in the Pat O’Brien Stakes to eight Aug. 27 when Juddmonte’s Laurel River upset Eastern invader Speaker’s Corner at Del Mar.
Instead of nominating Laurel River for a chance against Flightline in the Sept. 3 TVG Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles, Baffert elected to race the lightly raced runner into the seven-furlong, $252,500 O’Brien.
“If Flightline was not in the race — he’s not ready for a horse like him yet,” said Baffert.
Laurel River was ready to encounter top-notch sprinters and milers in the O’Brien, which offers a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series berth to the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Perhaps recalling invader Spendarella’s victory the week before in the Del Mar Oaks, bettors made Carter Handicap winner Speaker’s Corner, trained by Bill Mott, the 11-10 favorite in the O’Brien. Bing Crosby Stakes winner American Theorem was the 5.10-1 second choice, with Laurel River the 6.90-1 fourth choice in the field of 10.
When the starting gate opened, Speaker’s Corner came out of post-position 8 well for jockey Mike Smith and took the early lead. Principe Carlo moved up inside to engage the favorite, grabbing the advantage briefly. However, Speaker’s Corner edged back ahead.
Jockey Juan Hernandez had Laurel River in fourth. Going into the turn, Laurel River was behind three horses: Speaker’s Corner, Defunded (also trained by Baffert) on the outside, and Principe Carlo on the inside. Hernandez elected to point Laurel River between Principe Carlo and Speaker’s Corner.
“He broke real sharp, but then he relaxed,” Hernandez said. “I just tried to stay with them early. He went between horses without a problem.”
Laurel River responded bravely, and once he passed Principe Carlo and Speaker’s Corner, he set sail for the finish line, widening his margin ultimately to 3 3/4 lengths and stopping the timer in 1:21.27.
“He has a lot of speed, but he’s going to be much more effective around two turns,” said Baffert.
American Theorem, who had to race very wide, just as he did in the Crosby, closed ground to get second by three-quarters of a length over 21-1 Senor Buscador, with Speaker’s Corner a tiring fourth.
Fastest Time (since 1976): 1:20:06
Greatest Winning Margin (since 1976): 7 1/4 lengths
|08/26/2022||Laurel River||Bob Baffert||Juan J. Hernandez||Juddmonte|
|08/27/2021||Ginobili||Richard Baltas||Drayden Van Dyke||Slam Dunk Racing, Baltas, Richard, McClanahan, Jerry and Nentwig, Michael|
|08/28/2020||C Z Rocket||Peter Miller||Flavien Prat||Tom Kagele|
|08/23/2019||Catalina Cruiser||John W. Sadler||Flavien Prat||Hronis Racing LLC|
|08/24/2018||Catalina Cruiser||John W. Sadler||Drayden Van Dyke||Hronis Racing LLC|
|08/25/2017||Giant Expectations||Peter Eurton||Gary L. Stevens||Exline- Border Racing LLC and Gatto Racing, LLC|
|08/26/2016||Masochistic||Ronald W. Ellis||Tyler Baze||Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and Jay Em Ess Stable|
|08/21/2015||Appealing Tale||Peter Miller||Joseph Talamo||Barber, Gary and Cecil|
|08/23/2014||Goldencents||Doug F. O'Neill||Rafael Bejarano||W. C. Racing|
|08/24/2013||Fed Biz||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||Kaleem Shah, Inc.|
|08/25/2012||Capital Account||Bob Baffert||David Romero Flores||Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable|
|08/27/2011||The Factor||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||Fog City Stable and Bolton, George|
|08/27/2010||El Brujo||Bob Baffert||Joel Rosario||Arnold Zetcher LLC|
|09/05/2009||Zensational||Bob Baffert||Victor Espinoza||Zayat Stables, LLC|
|08/23/2008||Lewis Michael||Wayne M. Catalano||Rene R. Douglas||Frank Carl Calabrese|
|08/18/2007||Greg's Gold||David E. Hofmans||Victor Espinoza||William R. Boswell|
|08/19/2006||Siren Lure||Art Sherman||Alex O. Solis||Kesselman, Stuart and Melkonian, Tony and Marilyn|
|08/20/2005||Imperialism||Kristin Mulhall||Victor Espinoza||Steve Taub|
|08/14/2004||Kela||Mike R. Mitchell||Tyler Baze||Jay Manoogian|
|08/16/2003||Disturbingthepeace||Darrell Vienna||Victor Espinoza||Milch, David S. and Rita and Herrick Racing|
|08/17/2002||Disturbingthepeace||Darrell Vienna||Victor Espinoza||Milch, David S. and Rita|
|08/11/2001||El Corredor||Bob Baffert||Victor Espinoza||Hal J. Earnhardt III|
|08/19/2000||Love That Red||Bob Baffert||Corey S. Nakatani||Terry D. Wells|
|08/13/1999||Regal Thunder||Julio C. Canani||Chris W. Antley||Dehaven, Levy, Malibu Valley Farms, Inc., et al.|
|08/14/1998||Old Topper||Noble Threewitt||Eddie J. Delahoussaye||Barbara Hunter|
|08/15/1997||Tres Paraiso||Darrell Vienna||Gary L. Stevens||Ernest Auerbach|
|08/16/1996||Alphabet Soup||David E. Hofmans||Chris W. Antley||Ridder Thoroughbred Stable|
|08/18/1995||Lit de Justice||Jenine Sahadi||Corey S. Nakatani||Evergreen Farm|
|08/19/1994||D'Hallevant||Ronald L. McAnally||Corey S. Nakatani||MARY FUSSELMAN & JANICE L ELY|
|08/20/1993||Slerp||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||Adalberto Diaz Lopez||Allan L Richie|
|08/22/1992||Light of Morn||Rodney Rash||Eddie J. Delahoussaye||R E Hibbert|
|08/23/1991||Bruho||Jerry M. Fanning||Corey S. Nakatani||Joseph M Scardino|
|08/28/1990||Sensational Star||William Spawr||Rafael Q. Meza||Calhoun & Risoldi & Sullivan|
|08/29/1989||Olympic Native||Mike J. Orman||Robbie G. Davis||Alvarez & Smith|
|07/29/1988||Sebrof||Lazaro S. Barrera||Gary L. Stevens||Jones Aaron U|
|08/21/1987||Zany Tactics||Blake R. Heap||Jack Leroy Kaenel||Brunette Vera C|
|08/29/1986||Bold Brawley||Ronald W. Ellis||Patrick A. Valenzuela||Gilmour & Morrow|