Roadster Runs Down Game Winner in Battle of the Bafferts

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:59

Speedway Stable’s highly regarded Roadster (Quality Road) kicked home from far back to reel in stablemate and champion juvenile Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) and cap a one-two finish for Bob Baffert-trained ‘TDN Rising Stars‘ in Saturday’s GI Santa Anita Derby. Running to an already lofty reputation when he graduated at first asking at Del Mar last July, the $525,000 Keeneland September grad could only manage third at odds-on behind Game Winner in the GI Del Mar Futurity in September. He was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup himself when requiring minor throat surgery after reportedly displacing in the Futurity, but Game Runner had no trouble continuing to carry the Baffert torch and dominate the GI American Pharoah S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile en route to Eclipse honors. Roadster had made a smooth return to the races when annexing a local one-mile optional claimer Mar. 1 over re-opposing Nolo Contesto (Pioneerof the Nile), while Game Winner was looking to bounce back from a narrow defeat in a division of the GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn Mar. 16. Game Winner came down in the wagering all the way to 1-2 at the off, while Roadster drifted up to 31-10, just a couple ticks ahead of last year’s flashy GII Best Pal S. romper Instagrand (Into Mischief), who was looking to bounce back himself after dueling into third in the GIII Gotham S. Mar. 9.

Instagrand went right to the lead, with Game Winner slightly awkward into stride and Roadster unhurried from the fence. Game Winner was hung out four deep pretty much throughout, while Roadster drafted along the fence before dropping fairly far back through six panels in 1:12.20. Roadster picked the bit back up when Mike Smith asked him for more, however, and he quickly advanced on the first flight as Game Winner grinded his way up to challenge. Still left with some work to do in upper stretch, Roadster seemed to have his stablemate’s measure by midstretch and kicked past late under what appeared to be fairly confident handling.

“We knew before he and Game Winner started running that they both had ability,” Smith said. “They were breezing by the competition like this and putting them away. We weren’t sure which one was better. The first time he ran for me he showed he had all the gears. The second time he had the problem with his wind. We fixed that and he’s doing all the right things. We got a good break and then we dropped back. He took a breather, while the others were going out there quick. When I asked him again, he was gone.”

Baffert, who will seek his sixth Kentucky Derby next month and who still has fellow Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) for next Saturday’s GI Arkansas Derby, said, “They’re two good horses. Game Winner was out there by himself and when he gets by himself… he needs company. It was a good, hard race for both of them and, coming in, that’s what you want to see. This track is deep and slow, but it’s safe, and that’s what we wanted. I couldn’t be happier. We knew that Roadster needed to win or run second [for Kentucky Derby qualifying points, 100 to the winner, 40 to the runner-up].”

Co-owner Peter Fluor of Speedway Stables said, “I thought he would’ve been closer to the lead frankly, but it was cool to see him run a different kind of race. He’s been running second and then accelerating. Today, I’m proud of him for coming from off the pace like that. I wasn’t too thrilled about things halfway through the race, but Mike said he’s got gears and he showed it today. Hopefully, he comes out of it well and we can go on to the Derby.”

Pedigree Notes:

Roadster is his sire’s 22nd graded winner and 10th at the highest level, and is the third Grade I winner by Quality Road to be conditioned by Baffert (Abel Tasman, Klimt). He was also the second Grade I winner on Saturday’s card for Quality Road after Bellafina’s impressive score–over two Baffert trainees–in the GI Santa Anita Oaks. Roadster, whose family was developed by the late, great Ned Evans–who also bred and campaigned Quality Road himself–counts Grade I winner Dance Teacher as his third dam. He has a yearling half-brother by Twirling Candy, sire of Saturday’s GI Santa Anita H. hero Gift Box, and his dam was bred back to Candy Ride (Arg).


SOURCE: TDN 4/6/19