Log In

Baffert Continues Los Alamitos Futurity Dominance

by Jon White

December 12, 2018

No trainer has dominated any of this country’s current Grade I races to such an extent as Bob Baffert with his 14 Del Mar Futurity wins. He increased his total to 14 when Game Winner took this year’s renewal on Sept. 23.

Game Winner would go on to capture the Grade I American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29 and Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2. The Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt is odds-on to be voted a 2018 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

The Del Mar Futurity is not the only current Grade I race that Baffert has dominated. He now has won the Grade I Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity a total of 11 times. The Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park is another race the white-haired Hall of Famer has dominated. Baffert has eight Haskell victories to his credit.

According to my research, fellow Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and the late Charlie Whittingham are the two trainers who are the closest to Baffert in terms of dominating any of this country’s current Grade I races.

Lukas has won both the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and Grade I Chandelier Stakes (formerly Oak Leaf Stakes) at Santa Anita nine times. Whittingham likewise won the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap nine times.

These are Lukas’ nine Del Mar Debutante wins:

1996 Sharp Cat
1989 Rue de Palm
1988 Lea Lucinda*
1987 Lost Kitty
1995 Arewehavingfunyet
1994 Fiesta Lady
1993 Althea
1982 Landaluce
1978 Terlingua

*Placed first through the disqualification of Approved to Fly

These are Lukas’ nine wins in the Chandelier (formerly the Oak Leaf):

1996 City Band
1995 Tipically Irish
1994 Serena’s Song
1988 One of a Klein
1987 Dream Team
1986 Sacahuista
1985 Arewehavingfunyet
1983 Althea
1982 Landaluce

Whittingham, who died in 1999, won these nine Santa Anita Handicaps:

1993 Sir Beaufort
1990 Ruhlmann
1986 Greinton
1985 Lord at War
1975 Stardust Mel
1973 Cougar II
1971 Ack Ack
1967 Pretense
1957 Corn Husker

These are Baffert’s 14 Del Mar Futurity winners:

2018 Game Winner
2016 Klimt
2014 American Pharoah
2012 Rolling Fog
2011 Drill
2009 Lookin At Lucky
2008 Midshipman
2002 Icecoldbeeratreds
2001 Officer
2000 Flame Thrower
1999 Forest Camp
1998 Worldly Manner
1997 Souvenir Copy
1996 Silver Charm

Thanks to a talented colt by the name of Improbable, many expected Baffert to get his 11th victory in the 1 1/16-mile Los Al Futurity last Saturday, which is exactly what happened. Improbable lurked a close third early, took command at the top of Los Alamitos’ long stretch and bounded enthusiastically away to prevail by five lengths. Pounded down to 1-5 favoritism, the Kentucky-bred City Zip colt remained undefeated in three starts.

Here is the list of Baffert’s 11 Los Al Futurity winners:

2018 Improbable
2017 McKinzie*
2016 Mastery
2015 Mor Spirit
2014 Dortmund
2011 Liaison
2009 Lookin At Lucky
2008 Pioneerof the Nile
2000 Point Given
1999 Captain Steve
1997 Real Quiet

*Placed first through the disqualification of Solomini.


A pace factor from the outset, Mucho Gusto was no match for Improbable in the Los Al Futurity when the real test came. But Mucho Gusto, who also hails from the powerful Baffert barn, did keep to his task well enough to finish second in the field of six. Extra Hope ended up third, three lengths behind Mucho Gusto.

The $1 Baffert exacta paid a measly $2.80.

This was the first defeat for Mucho Gusto in three starts. The Kentucky-bred Mucho Macho Man colt won Del Mar’s Grade III Bob Hope Stakes on Nov. 17 after a four-length victory in a maiden special weight race at Los Alamitos on Sept. 20.

Improbable’s final time was 1:41.18. He was credited with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

These are the Beyer Speed Figures for winners of the Los Alamitos Futurity (which also has been known as the Hollywood Futurity and CashCall Futurity) going back to 1992 (run at Hollywood Park prior to 2014):

2018 Improbable (96)
2017 McKinzie (91)*
2016 Mastery (91)
2015 Mo Spirit (88)
2014 Dortmund (91)
2013 Shared Belief (106)**
2012 Violence (92)**
2011 Liaison (91)**
2010 Comma to the Top (95)**
2009 Lookin At Lucky (83)**
2008 Pioneerof the Nile (86)**
2007 Into Mischief (95)**
2006 Stormello (94)**
2005 Declan’s Moon (96)
2004 Brother Derek (102)
2003 Lion Heart (99)
2002 Toccet (102)
2001 Siphonic (104)
2000 Point Given (101)
1999 Captain Steve (101)
1998 Tactical Cat (93)
1997 Real Quiet (102)
1996 Swiss Yodeler (92)
1995 Matty G (104)
1994 Afternoon Deelites (111)
1993 Valiant Nature (106)
1992 River Special (96)

*Solomini finished first by three-quarters of a length and was assigned a 92 but was disqualified and placed second. McKinzie, who finished second and recorded a 91, was moved up to first via disqualification.

**Run on synthetic footing.


The Hollywood Futurity (now Los Alamitos Futurity) and Starlet both were inaugurated in 1981. Baffert in 2017 became the first trainer to sweep both races in the same year, winning the Futurity with McKinzie and Starlet with Dream Tree.

Following Improbable’s score in the Futurity, Baffert executed another sweep of the two races this year when Chasing Yesterday won the Grade I Starlet by a head as the 3-2 favorite. Enaya Alrabb, a 30-1 longshot, finished second in the field of six. Mother Mother came in third, a neck behind Enaya Alrabb.

Drayden Van Dyke was aboard Improbable in the Futurity and Chasing Yesterday in the Starlet. As noted by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen, it was the first time the 24-year-old Van Dyke has won two Grade I races in the same day.

When Chasing Yesterday became a Grade I winner as a result of her Starlet performance, her value soared, especially inasmuch as the the Kentucky-bred Tapit filly is a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Baffert conditioned American Pharoah, a son of Pioneerof the Nile. American Pharoah was voted Eclipse Awards as 2015 Horse of the Year, 2015 champion 3-year-old male and 2014 champion 2-year-old male.

Chasing Yesterday completed her 1 1/16-mile journey in 1:42.59. She now has won three of four starts.

These are the Beyer Speed Figures for winners of the Starlet going back to 1991 (run at Hollywood Park prior to 2014):

2018 Chasing Yesterday (82)
2017 Dream Tree (81)
2016 Abel Tasman (84)
2015 Street Fancy (74)
2014 Take Charge Brandi (87)
2013 Streaming (81)*
2012 Pure Fun (88)*
2011 Killer Graces (81)*
2010 Turbulent Descent (94)*
2009 Blind Luck (93)*
2008 Laragh (89)*
2007 Country Star (93)*
2006 Romance Is Diane (85)*
2005 Diplomat Lady (89)
2004 Splendid Blended (92)
2003 Hollywood Story (95)
2002 Elloluv (94)
2001 Habibti (104)
2000 I Believe in You (90)
1999 Surfside (100)
1998 Excellent Meeting (101)
1997 Love Lock (98)
1996 Sharp Cat (92)
1995 Cara Rafaela (104)
1994 Serena’s Song (103)
1993 Sardula (98)
1992 Creaking Board (83)
1991 Magical Maiden (94)

**Run on synthetic footing.

These are Baffert’s five Starlet winners:

2018 Chasing Yesterday
2017 Dream Tree
2016 Streaming
2001 Habibti
1998 Excellent Meeting