By Bill Finley
The nominees for the Mar. 4 GIII Gotham S. at Aqueduct include four horses that have been under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, but were nominated under the names of new trainers.
Baffert is banned from running in this year's GI Kentucky Derby and any horse under the care of a trainer suspended by Churchill Downs must be moved to a new barn by Feb. 28 in order to earn Derby qualifying points. On Friday, a U.S. District Judge ruled against Baffert as he sought a temporary injunction that would have allowed him to enter the Derby. Baffert was also banned by the New York Racing Association, but its one-year suspension ended Jan. 26.
The news that Baffert-trainees are switching stables for a possible run in the Gotham was first reported by the Daily Racing Form's David Grening.
The Baffert Gotham nominees are the Amr Zedan-owned pair of Arabian Lion (Justify) and Hejazi (Bernardini) and Carmel Road (Quality Road) and Fort Warren (Curlin). The latter two are owned by partnerships consisting of SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable LLC and others. Arabian Lion, Hejazi and Carmel Road were nominated under the name of Tim Yakteen. Fort Warren was nominated under the name of Brittany Russell. It was not clear who, if any of the Baffert/Yakteen/Russell horses, will start in the Gotham.
With Baffert also suspended from running in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, the two starters in the race from his barn, Taiba (Gun Runner) and Messier (Empire Maker), competed for Yatkeen, a former assistant to Baffert.
Several other Baffert trained 3-year-old colts will also likely be on the move within the next few days. Nominations for the GII San Felipe S. at Santa Anita, also to be run Mar. 4, close Thursday and any horse from the Baffert stable with eyes on a possible Kentucky Derby start will need to find a new home.
The GII Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream will also be run Mar. 4. Baffert nominated Hard to Figure (Hard Spun), the runner-up in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. According to Grening's report, Baffert was listed as the trainer on the nomination.
Plans for Arabian Knight (Uncle Mo) and Cave Rock (Arrogate), generally considered the top two 3-year-olds in the Baffert stable, have yet to be announced.
Baffert is expected to have starters in Saturday's GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn. All of his nominees to that race are listed under his own name. But the Rebel takes place before the Feb. 28 deadline.
The Gotham starters were not the first 3-year-olds from the Baffert barn to find a new home. After breaking his maiden for Baffert Jan. 22 at Santa Anita, Harlocap (Justify) ran for Steve Asmussen in Saturday's GII Risen Star S. He finished sixth.
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