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Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is looking for his third consecutive and seventh career win in the Southwest Stakes tomorrow. Wynstock is his lone contender in the $800,000 Grade 3 race at Oaklawn Park. Meanwhile, he has three contenders (a third of the field) in the $200,000 Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. If any or all of these horses finish in the top three they will deprive the other contenders of Kentucky Derby points needed to compete on the first Saturday in May.

Baffert has been banned from the Derby for the last two years, and Churchill Downs recently extended that ban through 2024. The deadline for potential Derby contenders to be moved out of his stable was January 29th, and none of his owners chose to make that move this year. 
Baffert’s top two Kentucky Derby prospects, Nysos and Muth, were considered to be among the top contenders in the country. Many owners, trainers, and fans have weighed in with strong opinions on both the extended ban and the owners’ decisions not to pursue their Kentucky Derby dreams in lieu of retaining Baffert as their trainer. 
Baffert will likely win the prep race at Santa Anita. However, both his contender in the Southwest race and that race, itself, are far more intriguing to me. The aforementioned Wynstock is by the obscure stallion Solomini. He stands for only $7500. Yet, Wynstock’s purchase price at the April two-year-old in training sale was a whopping $700,000. The colt must have sprouted wings and flown over the track to bring that kind of money with such an inexpensive sire! 
Wynstock has two wins from five starts, and one of those is at the mile and a sixteenth Southwest distance. He’s a frontrunner, and will likely be headed on Saturday by Steve Asmussen’s undefeated rising star Carbone. They could be joined on the lead by at least two other horses in the race, so there is a fair amount of speed. Oaklawn is expecting rain, and there are several proven off-track winners in the race, including Maycocks Bay, Otto the Conqueror, and Liberal Arts. Two of Otto the Conqueror’s three wins have been in the mud. 
My only futures wager in January was on Carbone. But he will encounter two turns, the mud, and a group of very talented horses tomorrow. Anything could happen…including another “pointless” Bob Baffert victory. Let’s go!!!

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