Winner of 7 Runnings, Baffert Has This to Say about Debutante Stakes

3 Stars in the 2018 Debutante Stakes?

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has had representatives in the Del Mar Debutante, and race winners, for more than 20 years.

Batroyale in 1995 was the first of seven winners in the championship event for 2-year-old fillies of the summer meeting that Baffert has saddled.

But when he considered the talent assembling for the 68th running of the Debutante on Saturday afternoon, Baffert came to a strong conclusion.

“Gonna be a tough race,” Baffert said. “Gonna be one of the toughest Debutantes I’ve ever been in. You’ve got three outstanding fillies and it’s going to be a tough deal.”

Two of the three that Baffert referred to are Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Brill, a $1 million sale purchase a year ago who looked worth the price in a debut win here on July 18, and Simon Callaghan-trained Bellafina, who took the Grade II Sorrento Stakes on August 5 by 4 ¼ lengths.

Del mar chantal billboardThe third would be Baffert’s own Mother Mother, his choice from four fillies who showed Debutante potential in works or races this summer from the 22 he nominated (of a total 162) for the race.

Baffert, who has had multiple entries in the Debutante several times in the past, opted for Mother Mother, a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile who debuted with a 6 ½-length victory at six furlongs here on July 22, after she worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Monday morning. Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, has been sent to Saratoga. Der Lu and The Aurelia Factor, debut winners at the meet, await later assignments.

The Debutante is a seven-furlong main track test with the winner securing Grade I victory status and a $180,000 share of the $300,000 purse.

“I was happy with her, she’s doing everything right,” Baffert said.

The field for the Debutante was drawn Wednesday. The entries in alphabetical order are: Bellafina (Flavien Prat), Boujie Girl (Geovanni Franco), Brill (Drayden Van Dyke), Mother Mother (Joe Talamo) and Watch Me Burn (Alonso Quinonez).

Source: Del Mar

The Weekend Wagers According to Dew

by Justin Dew

At some point, the idea of needing to race as a juvenile in order to win the Kentucky Derby will be a thing of the past. It’s really the last remaining Derby jinx. Is it possible, even remotely, that Bob Baffert knew what he had all along in Justify and decided, a mere three years after winning the Triple Crown, that he wanted to be the one to accomplish the impossible yet again? Maybe that’s a reach. And maybe Justify is a monster among boys. Will he need to be to break the Curse of Apollo? He’s defeated a grad total of eight horses in his two-race career. If he wins the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday and heads to Louisville as the favorite, he will do so having faced just one more horse in his career (14) than Enticed defeated in just one race.

Since I’ve never been a fan of Instilled Regard, I think the race pretty much comes down to a match between Justify and Bolt d’Oro, just like everyone else. If you think Bolt d’Oro needed his last, then maybe you give him an edge here and play a straight exacta that will pay 2-1 rather than accept 6-5 or even money on Bolt d’Oro. It’s not going to surprise me in the slightest if both horses end up 4-5 on the tote board at some point in the wagering.

The Bet: Straight Exacta: Bolt d’Oro-Justify


I had forgotten that Good Magic finished ahead of Enticed in the Champagne last fall. That bolsters my opinion ever so slightly that Good Magic is the most likely Kentucky Derby winner at this point, as Enticed has returned to win two graded stakes at two turns. He’ll likely go favored in the Wood Memorial on Saturday against a field that can best be described as the JV of this crop. Bob Baffert sends Restoring Hope from out west. Todd Pletcher will look to give Vino Rosso another shot at Kentucky Derby points. I don’t think Firenze Fire wants to go this far. Most of the rest seem at least a notch below the main contenders. Two horses intrigue me: Old Time Revival and Evaluator. I thought Old Time Revival ran a big race in both the Gotham and the Miracle Wood, and if he gets loose on the lead in here, don’t be surprised if he hangs around for a long, long time. And Evaluator has acquitted himself nicely in his two dirt starts. Both were around one turn, so I’ll be interested to see if he can close strongly with the added distance and class hike. He probably can’t, but at the price and against this bunch, I’ll take a chance that he can.

The Bet: Exacta Box: Enticed, Evaluator, Old Time Revival

Just because I’m a huge fan of Good Magic doesn’t mean I think he will win or has to win the Blue Grass Stakes. One thing for sure is that he’ll be overbet. Maybe he’s good enough to overcome the bad post, but I still have this nagging feeling that Chad Brown is setting this horse up to peak on Derby Day. So I could easily see Good Magic running an honest 3rd and heading to Louisville under the radar, so to speak. Quip and Kanthaka are near and dear to my heart, as I won big money on each of them this year at 18-1 and 11-1 respectively in their big stakes wins. But I think both wins were products of race shape and I don’t particularly like either of them in here. I prefer Free Drop Billy over Flameaway and Tiz Mischief among the remaining contenders with a win over the Keeneland surface, but the horse that I really expect to run big is Sporting Chance. I don’t think the ride he got last out at Oaklawn was all that strong, and I think D. Wayne Lukas will have him cranked to run big.

The Bet: Exacta Key: Sporting Chance over Free Drop Billy and Good Magic


handicappers Dew Justin Rich Nilsen

Justin Dew (Left)

Justin Dew is a regular contributor to the educational horse racing site,  He was one of the original bloggers for the official website.





Bob Baffert & Unlucky Posts for American Pharoah, Dortmund

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