Dortmund captures first stakes win

IMG_1785_croppedRed_v1 IMG_1908_croppedRed_v1The undefeated Dortmund — an early Kentucky Derby favorite — won his first stakes race Saturday in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity in a dramatic photo-finish.

In his third start, the 2-year-old chestnut son of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown narrowly edged out Firing Line and the more seasoned Mr. Z in a track record 1:40:86 for the 1 1/16-mile, $500,000 race.

Dortmund’s trainer, Bob Baffert, told reporters that he asked jockey Martin Garcia after the race if he knew he had won with the 3-5 favorite. He said Garcia responded that he did.

“Why don’t you give me a fist pump (to) let me know?” Baffert said he asked the rider after the race.

Baffert he said he hadn’t been sure how Dortmund would handle the turns at Los Alamitos Race Course, noting that he’s “such a big horse” at a little over 16 hands and three inches and still growing.

“The way he did it today being wide the whole way, which is really not the way to be here … he’s such a good horse that he overcame it,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.

“He’s still getting better. He’s still filling out,” Baffert said, comparing the colt to 2001 Preakness and Belmont winner and Horse of the Year Point Given, whom he also trained.

Baffert said he did not have any immediate plans for the Kaleem Shah Inc.-owned colt, but he indicated Dortmund is not likely to run against his stablemate, American Pharoah, until the Kentucky Derby if they both make it to Churchill Downs in May.

“If you ask me to take one right now, it’d be hard, it would really be hard,” Baffert said of his two 2-year-old stars, noting that they have “different styles.”

As for the pressure that can come with a promising 2-year-old, Baffert said it doesn’t really bother him that Dortmund is an early favorite for the Derby.

“It’s good to be in that position but it’s so far away that I just don’t even think about that,” he said.

Horse Bits:
— It’s a good bet that Dortmund won’t have cotton balls in his ears like the famed mare Zenyatta. Baffert said he tried putting cotton balls in Dortmund’s ears for his last workout, noting that the colt “wanted no part of that” and was “shaking his head all the way.”
— American Pharoah — who does use cotton balls — will be resuming training in a couple of weeks, Baffert said.
— Baffert recalled winning his first Champion of Champions in 1986 at Los Alamitos, saying, “I thought it wouldn’t get any better than that when I won that.”