Forbidden Kingdom frolics in San Felipe; Baffert takes 2nd place


ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Forbidden Kingdom picked up a 5 3/4 length win in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes on Saturday, beating a pair of 3-year-old colts from beleaguered trainer Bob Baffert’s barn.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Forbidden Kingdom covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.98 on a rainy 55 degree day in Santa Anita.

Coached by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Forbidden Kingdom took the lead on their way to their third victory in five career starts. He is a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who was trained by Baffert.

This was Forbidden Kingdom’s first try in two rounds.


“I was very anxious. You just don’t know if a horse like this will get two rounds, but damn he looked better,” Mandella said.

In four of his wins, the colt has led all the way.

“He’s really fast,” Hernandez said. “A few jumps after the break, he was already in front and I let him run. I threw him on a leash and he never stopped. He showed how good he was. »

Ejected as the tied favorite in the field of seven, Forbidden Kingdom paid $4, $2.40 and $2.20. The chestnut colt earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

It has been 18 years since Mandella had a starter in the Kentucky Derby, where he is 0 for 6. His last trip to Louisville ended in heartbreak when morning line favorite Omaha Beach was scratched days before the 2019 race due to a throat problem.

“Omaha was a big horse. This guy is spinning in this direction,” Mandella said. “We just hope we keep it as good as it is today.”

Trained by Baffert, Doppelganger brought in $2.60 and $2.40 as he rebounded from a fourth-place finish in his last start at San Vicente. He was beaten by Forbidden Kingdom in that run on January 25.

Baffert’s other entry, 9-2 fired at Armagnac, finished sixth.

Happy Jack was another 4 3/4 lengths in third and paid $5 to show.

Baffert’s day at Santa Anita started out quite promisingly. He finished 1-2 in the second race on the card and won the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes with 3-5 favorite Cezanne.

At the New York Aqueduct, Baffert’s entry Rockefeller finished last in the 10-horse field for the Gotham Stakes. The $300,000 race awarded Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top four, with Morello being the winner.

Baffert was cleared to race in New York City pending a final decision in the New York Racing Association’s case to ban him from its tracks.

On Friday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied Baffert’s request to waive his 90-day suspension. His suspension came after a ruling last month by Kentucky stewards that disqualified the late Medina Spirit from winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

The suspension was originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Instead, a Kentucky judge will hear the case on March 17 to decide whether a stay should be granted.

In another issue, Baffert was banned by Churchill Downs for two years following Medina Spirit’s failure to pass a drugs test after the Derby. The trainer filed a federal lawsuit this week in an attempt to overturn that ban and force the track to allow his horses to earn Derby qualifying points. As a result, Doppelganger did not receive the 20 points available for finishing second to the San Felipe.

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