Baffert Has Strong Hand In Bob Hope

Havnameltdown | Benoit

Trainer Bob Baffert has accounted for seven of the last 11 winners of the GIII Bob Hope S., including two of the final three renewals when the race was known as the Hollywood Prevue S., and three out of the last four during the Bing Crosby meet capped by 'TDN Rising Star' Messier (Empire Maker) 12 months ago.

It would appear that this year's running also goes through the Baffert shedrow, which sends out three of the seven entrants. Havnameltdown (Uncaptured) is the most accomplished of the trio and is accordingly the 6-5 pick on the morning line. A smooth maiden winner on his five-furlong debut over this strip July 24, the bay overcame the 10 hole to post a popular 2 1/2-length victory in the GIII Best Pal S. Aug. 14 and was last seen completing a Baffert 1-2 behind 'Rising Star' Cave Rock (Arrogate) in the GI Runhappy Del Mar Futurity over track and distance Sept. 11.

Newgate (Speightstown) was similarly impressive first time out, graduating by a widening 3 1/2-length margin, but stubbed his toe a bit when beaten double digits into fourth in the local Futurity. The $850,000 Keeneland September purchase cuts back to one turn off a weakening fifth in Keeneland's GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity–won by next-out GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile hero Forte (Violence)–and gets the blinkers off Sunday.

The third of the Baffert entry is the rail-drawn Hard to Figure (Hard Spun), recent winner of the restricted Capote S. at Los Alamitos Sept. 25 and who gets a major upgrade in the saddle to Flavien Prat.

Three-time maiden Practical Move (Practical Joke) was runner-up in Cave Rock's debut and was third sprinting Sept. 3 before being promoted to the victory going a mile at Santa Anita Oct. 10.

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