BAFFERT HOLDS HEAVY HAND IN SATURDAY’S GRADE III LAS FLORES STAKES

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 30, 2011) – With the potent pair of Gilded Gem and Mother Ruth, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert would appear to have a toehold on Santa Anita’s 59th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on Saturday.

Three Baffert entrants, including Subsidized, comprise half the field of six in the Las Flores, which is carded as race four on a 10-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

It is not easy to separate Gilded Gem and Mother Ruth. The 5-year-old mares have faced one another twice. Mother Ruth won the Jan. 7 Kalookan Queen Handicap by one-half length over Gilded Gem. But the latter returned three weeks later to run second to Switch in the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes with Mother Ruth 2 ½ lengths further back in fourth.

Joel Rosario rides Gilded Gem, a relatively lightly raced daughter of Smarty Jones owned by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds and partners. She has posted a 3-4-0 record in 9 races for earnings of $163,800. Gilded Gem finished sixth in last year’s running of the Las Flores won by Mona de Momma.

Mother Ruth will be handled by Martin Garcia. The Speightstown offspring has won $283,283 for Zayat Stables with a record of 6-4-1 in 15 starts. She is a winner of three stakes races while Gilded Gem is in search of her first.

The competition includes Broken Dreams, who has twice finished second to crack turf sprinter Unzip Me while running in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes and the Clockers’ Corner Handicap this season. Garrett Gomez will be aboard the Glen Hill Farm homebred trained by Tom Proctor. Her record is 3-5-0 in 10 races for earnings of $138,250.

Silver Swallow, at 7, is the top earner in the field after having won $461,415 from a 4-9-9 showing in 29 races. She ran second to Mother Ruth in last October’s Louis R. Rowan Stakes at Hollywood Park and third to that one’s second in the Playa del Rey. In February, Silver Swallow chased second-place Gilded Gem home when third in an allowance event at Santa Anita. Bruce Headley trains and co-owns the daughter of Alphabet Soup, who will be ridden by Mike Smith.

Subsidized, the third of the Baffert entrants, has won 3 of 6 starts including Fairplex Park’s Beverly J. Lewis Stakes last September. The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper will be competing in her first graded stakes. Rafael Bejarano has the mount atop the winner of $94,300 for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman.

The complete field for the Las Flores Stakes, with jockeys in post position order (all entrants carry 118 pounds): Broken Dreams, Garrett Gomez; Candy’s Pleasure, Patrick Valenzuela; Mother Ruth, Martin Garcia; Subsidized, Rafael Bejarano; Gilded Gem, Joel Rosario, and Silver Swallow, Mike Smith.

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