Baffert Has Bob Hope Surrounded


Messier | Benoit Photo

The always well-stocked Bob Baffert barn, fresh off its victory in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile last week with Corniche (Quality Road), has three more pricey and full-of-potential juvenile colts entered against just two other rivals in Sunday's seven-furlong GIII Bob Hope S. at Del Mar. Baffert already owns a record 10 Bob Hope trophies and has won four of the last six renewals.

Breaking from the rail is 'TDN Rising Star' Messier (Empire Maker), a 6 1/2-length second-out winner at Santa Anita Oct. 22. He now sheds blinkers off the graduation–a move Baffert has employed in the past with the likes of Bob Hope winner Mastery, Triple Crown winner Justify, champion juvenile Game Winner, etc. Drawn to Messier's right is $400,000 KEENOV weanling Kamui (Quality Road), who was second–demoted to third for interference–behind re-opposing Forbidden Kingdom (American Pharoah)–at Del Mar Aug. 21. The Baoma Corp. colorbearer aired by six lengths at Los Al Sept. 11. Winning Map (Liam's Map) rounds out the Baffert trio and boasts the field's top Beyer Speed Figure of 85. The $525,000 OBSMAR (:20 3/5) acquisition justified 2-5 odds when cruising clear to a 4 1/4-length debut victory in Arcadia Oct. 3.

The aforementioned Forbidden Kingdom returns to the main track after checking in third as the favorite in Santa Anita's Speakeasy S., a prep for the GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Rock N Bye (Stay Thirsty) ventures for the first time out of Cal-bred company, where he annexed the local Graduation S. in August before two more stakes placings.

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