THE classic preps begin early in the US and there were a few group races for the new three-year-old crop over the last week.

At Santa Anita, Bob Baffert trained the one-two in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, with Newgrange (Violence) and John Velazquez beating Rockefeller by two and there quarter lengths.

On just his second start, Newgrange made his large group of owners happy with a front-running success by two and three-quarter-lengths over many of that same group of owners’ Grade 3-winner Rockefeller.

Baffert has to serve a two-year ban preventing him from racing at Churchill Downs that was handed down after 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed post-race drug tests. His barn includes the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Corniche.

One of the owners’ group Sol Kumin said: “We’ve been supportive of Bob and our plan is to stay supportive. We haven’t really discussed anything we’re doing going forward. We have a lot of time to decide and see what happens.”

Santa Anita’s new year meeting had the Grade 3 La Canada Stakes as one of its features and it saw an impressive win for the Michael Tabor silks carried by the five-year-old American Pharoah mare As Time Goes By, for Bob Baffert and Flavien Plat.

Consistent at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level, this was her fourth graded win and makes it six from her 13 starts.

She went clear all the way up the straight to beat Park Avenue by 13 and a half lengths.


At Oaklawn Park the Listed Smarty Jones Stakes over a mile and worth $250,000 went to the Kenny McPeek-trained Munnings colt Dash Attack.

The chesnut colt was slow away and came from eighth place under David Cohen to pull clear by two lengths over Barber Road in a field of 13.

Aqueduct’s winter-into-spring season kicked off with the Listed Jerome Stakes also over a mile which was won by Kelly Breen’s Tapit colt Courvoisier who finished strongly over the sloppy track to beat Smarten Up and Cooke Creek by a length and a quarter.

The first three are likely to face each other again in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes on February 5th at Aqueduct.

Baffert faces additional charges

AHEAD of a January 24th disciplinary hearing, the New York Racing Association has updated its statement of charges against trainer Bob Baffert last week.

The NYRA has amended its statement “to reflect additional facts, conclusions, and details based on NYRA’s ongoing investigation of Mr Baffert’s conduct,” NYRA senior director of communications Pat McKenna told BloodHorse.

Among other items, two 2019 violations at Del Mar reported by the California Horse Racing Board that resulted in fines for Baffert, have been added and an allegation that a CHRB investigation found a medication cabinet with 25 improperly labelled medications.

Baffert’s lawyer W. Craig Roberston III dismissed the additional charges. “The Amended Charges were not served until December 23rd, Robertson stated. “They reference matters that occurred outside of New York, were thoroughly reviewed and investigated, and decided years ago. None of them resulted in a single suspension of Mr Baffert.”

Classic winner Rombauer retired

THE 2021 Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer has been retired from racing.

Rombauer had not run since the June 5th Belmont Stakes in which he finished third and the Twirling Candy colt had some filling in his ankles following that race.

Rombauer took a bad step while back galloping at Santa Anita last week and connections, John and Diane Fradkin, felt it was best to retire the colt.

His biggest victory came last May in the Preakness at Pimlico when he won by three and a half lengths, beating multiple Grade 1-placed Midnight Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. He was trained by Michael McCarthy.