Baffert's million-dollar baby pays off

Forestry romps in Dwyer, his 5th straight triumph

July 12, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Bob Baffert stepped into uncharted territory when he bid $1.5 million for Forestry two years ago at the July yearling sale at Keeneland. Baffert, the Southern California trainer, had never paid more than a million dollars for a horse.

He bid for Aaron Jones, who lives in Oregon, owns one of the largest lumber companies in the country and considers himself an expert in pedigrees. Jones and Baffert knew that Forestry, a son of Storm Cat out of the Pleasant Colony mare Shared Interest, was regally bred and would probably earn back his purchase price as a stallion.

In the meantime, Baffert hoped he had a racehorse.

Yesterday, 3-year-old Forestry cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade II $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. It was his fifth straight victory but first in a graded stakes.

Baffert said Forestry was slow to mature, which kept him out of action last year as a 2-year-old and out of the picture this year when the Triple Crown series commenced. But now, with the second half of the 3-year-old season under way, Forestry may be about to break into the upper echelon of the division.

Bettors sensed this, making Forestry the even-money favorite against five challengers in the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer. With Jerry Bailey aboard, Forestry battled with Doneraile Court for the early lead and then drew away in the stretch, stopping the timer at 1 minute, 41 seconds.

Doneraile Court, a $1 million yearling trained by Nick Zito, held on for second, a half length in front of Successful Appeal. Forestry paid $4 to win and headed an $8.80 exacta and $29.40 trifecta. The Maryland-trained and -owned Millions finished fourth, 12 lengths behind Successful Appeal.

Laurel Park: The 4-5 Nothing Special out-sprinted five rivals to capture the $40,000 Cumberland Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths in 1: 23 2/5. This was a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares who had never won a stakes.

"I had a ton of horse under me the entire race," said her jockey, Mark Johnston. "When it was time to take care of business, she did it with authority."

Delaware Park: The 2-1 Oh Say Lou, a Maryland-bred son of Oh Say and Crooked Tower, won the $50,000 Jeff Stakes, completing the five furlongs on turf in 57 3/5 seconds in Stanton. Pal Joey finished second, Copelan's Number third.

Monmouth Park: The 8-1 Mi Narrow prevailed in the Grade III $100,000 Oceanport (N.J.) Handicap by three-quarters of a length over Hurrahy in a track-record time of 1: 39 2/5. The lone Maryland horse, La Reine's Terms, finished sixth.

Hollywood Park: The Baffert-trained Del Mar Gray won the $125,000 Khaled Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf in Inglewood, Calif. Margeds Dancer was second, Butler On Duty third.

Pub Date: 7/12/99

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