|Wanna Runner? Baffert, Pegram Had
One for Grade III Walmac Lone Star Derby
2006) - The Bob Baffert-trained Wanna Runner was much the best
in Saturday's Grade III, $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby at Lone
Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas and easily defeated longshot Wait
in Line by 5 ¼ lengths under a hand ride - the largest margin
of victory in the race's 10-year history.
"He looked like Barbaro coming down the stretch," quipped
Next for the Ontario, Canada-bred will be the $1 million Queen's
Plate at Woodbine on June 25 - the first leg of Canada's Triple
Crown. "The Lone Star Derby is going to be my springboard to
the Canadian classics from now on," Baffert said.
Wanna Runner, ridden by Victor Espinoza and carrying 122 pounds,
covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:43.71 and paid $3,
$2.60 and $2.10 as the odds-on 1-2 favorite in the field of six
3-year-olds. Wait in Line, at odds of 46.70-1, returned $19.60 and
$5.40. Admiral's Arch, the 4-1 third wagering choice, was another
four lengths back in third and paid $2.40.
The win was the fourth in eight starts for Wanna Runner, who previously
won the $600,000 WinStar Derby by 4 ¾ lengths. The $185,000
winner's share of the purse boosted the El Corredor gelding's career
earnings to $566,950 for owner Mike Pegram.
"We were tempted to run in the Preakness and I told Mike [Pegram]
if Barbaro hadn't run a race like that, if it had been a race like
last year's, we'd take a chance," Baffert said. "But that
horse is pretty special and this horse here needed time to develop.
"I always thought he was a nice horse but he's getting better.
We didn't really push him for the [Kentucky] Derby. I ran him back
at Golden Gate and I ran him back way too soon and that set us back.
I know what it takes to win the [Kentucky] Derby and we maybe could've
taken him, but it's too hard on a horse. Mike didn't have any fever
with him. I'll take him back to California to freshen up.
"He ran third to Brother Derek but he's doing much better
now than he was then. Mike has always wanted to go to the Queen's
Plate and he's a gelding so we're not trying to make a stallion
here. We're just having fun with him. It's fun to go to different
"We can't wait for him to come home," Wanna Runner's
Canadian breeder Yvonne Schwabe said via telephone. "He's the
best runner we've ever had down in the states."
This was the second Walmac Lone Star Derby winner for Baffert.
He took the inaugural running in 1997 with eventual $1.1 million-earner
Anet. Overall, it was Baffert's 12th career stakes win at Lone Star
and second this season. He plans to return May 29 with Grade III
Texas Mile champ Preachinatthebar for the Grade III, $400,000 Lone
Star Park Handicap, another Pegram-owned horse.
"This place has been good to me since the day it opened,"
Wanna Runner contested the early pace established by Rain On Monday
-- :23.33 for the first quarter mile and :47.14 for a half-mile
- from the inside after breaking from post position No. 1. He edged
clear at the top of the stretch and drew away under Espinoza's urging.
Wait in Line, a last minute addition to the field by trainer Chris
Hartman at entry time on Thursday, sat just off the pacesetters
and was no match for the winner. "Not bad for a guy who wasn't
even going to run," Hartman said. "It beats sitting in
the barn, that's for sure. I wasn't even going to run. It looked
like it was too tough. [Wanna Runner] beat us 18 lengths in El Paso."
Wait in Line became the longest shot in Lone Star Derby history
to finish among the top three.
Admiral's Arch was rated just behind the leaders in fourth but
came up empty in the stretch.
"Apparently the winner had a little more horse and just cut
loose at the top of the stretch," said Admiral Arch's rider
Shaun Bridgmohan. "I thought I was in the perfect spot. There
were three across the track and I was just biding my time."
The field was completed by Mr. Pursuit, Rain On Monday and Red
Raymond, the 7-2 second betting choice. "He never got into
the race," said Red Raymond's trainer Bob Holthus.
Jockey Quincy Hamilton was a late replacement for Roman Chapa aboard
Rain On Monday. In Friday's seventh race, Chapa broke his left collarbone
when his mount Substaniate was fatally injured in deep stretch.
"It's going to require some surgery," said Chapa, who'll
be sidelined four to six weeks. "They think I could be back
in four weeks if I push it and I'm lucky...I'll see you again in
Later on the program in 3-year-old divisions of the $125,000 Texas
Stallion Stakes, Will Farish's Upstream won the Stymie Division
for colts and geldings and Tom Durant's Open Meadows prevailed in
the Got Koko for fillies.
Racing at Lone Star Park continues Sunday with a nine-race Mother's
Day program that begins at 1:35 p.m. CT. The first 500 women (age
21 and over) to attend will get a chance to dig for a real diamond
on the main track after the last race, courtesy of Van Peterson
Jewelers in Irving. Grandstand gates open at 11:30 a.m. Sundays
also double as Senior Citizen's Day where all patrons 62 and up
receive free general admission with proof of identification.
Baffert to Bypass Preakness Stakes with Bob and John, Point
In Preakness Stakes news, Baffert said he plans to bypass the race
with both Bob and John and Point Determined. "Bob and John
was the only one [under consideration]," Baffert said. "If
Barbaro were to defect on Monday then I'd run Bob and John, but
they [Bob and John and Point Determined] are going back Monday to
California to prepare for the Belmont."