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MISREMEMBERED, GARCIA POWER TO VICTORY IN GR. I BIG ’CAP, BAFFERT WINNING BREEDER, OWNER/TRAINER
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Bob Baffert was so bummed after Misremembered finished second for the third consecutive time in his last start, he decided to shake things up.
The Hall of Fame trainer switched jockeys and gave different riding instructions for Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.
Misremembered won by a half-length over fast-closing Neko Bay, putting a smile on Baffert's face as he walked into the winner's circle. He also bred the horse, which is co-owned by his wife, Jill, along with George and Lynn Jacobs.
Baffert switched from Victor Espinoza, who had ridden Misremembered in his last nine races, to Martin Garcia.
Misremembered ran 1¼ miles in 2:00.20, the 4-year-old horse's first victory at the distance. He paid $10.80, $6 and $4.40 at 4-1 odds.
"Last time I was so disappointed, and I told Victor, `You just got to let him roll. He's got one speed. He's a long-striding horse,'" Baffert said. "So we let him do it. When he was out there, he didn't chase after that speed horse. He really dug in."
Garcia had worked Misremembered during morning training hours, and Baffert has been winning races with him at a 27-percent clip lately.
"I feel amazing, man!" Garcia said. "This is the first time I rode in the Big 'Cap and I had the opportunity to make it to the winner's circle. Bob told me to give him a clear break and just not fight him. When my horse got to the lead, I knew I still had a lot of horse."
Neko Bay returned $7.80 and $6, while Dakota Phone and Espinoza were another 2¼ lengths back in third and paid $10.40 to show.
"I got to the other horse (Misremembered), but he dug in," said Mike Smith, Neko Bay's jockey. "If you give me a few more jumps, I get him. But the winner dug in tough."
Jeranimo was fourth in the 14-horse field.
St Trinians finished sixth as the 3-1 wagering favorite who was attempting to become the first filly or mare to win the Big 'Cap in its 73-year history.
"She had a tough time, but I give her credit," her jockey Joel Rosario said. "The other horses were coming in on her. She was never comfortable in there. She was between horses much of the time and we got too far back. She moved a little bit after that, but it was just too much to make up."
Jill Baffert kissed Misremembered on the nose as he was led into the winner's circle, a trip worth $450,000. The couple's son, 5-year-old Bode, cradled the silver trophy for the photo and, with some prompting by his mother, chirped into a TV microphone.
Earlier Saturday, Baffert saddled a pair of 3-year-old colts, The Program and Marcello, in the $150,000 Sham Stakes. The Program finished third and Marcello was sixth.
Alphie's Bet won the prep for next month's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby by 2¼ lengths over Setsuko.
In the $250,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, Proviso defeated Fluke by a nose in a photo finish between horses previously trained by the late Bobby Frankel, who died of cancer in November.
The 5-year-old mare became the first female to win the race in its 51st running.
Proviso is now trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, while Fluke has remained with Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's longtime assistant in Southern California.
"Billy told me, 'You've got to get her to relax if you can. Anything you do could set her off,'" Smith said. "She beat a great bunch of boys here today. I thought I won it and I pumped my fist just to sell it (to the placing judges)."
Crisp won the $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over All Due Respect. Blind Luck, the 1-2 wagering favorite, was another neck back in third after rallying from seventh.
"We got beat the whole way," said Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Blind Luck, who was seeking her third consecutive Grade 1 victory.
The filly was the 4-1 favorite at the conclusion of Friday's Kentucky Oaks future wagering.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Crisp ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $13.60 to win. She ran with blinkers, and Rosario said they made her more focused.
Trainer John Sadler plans to bring Crisp to the Derby-eve Oaks.
"She's got good stamina and can run a big distance," he said.