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Newgate Runs Down Subsanador in Santa Anita Handicap

Bob Baffert has had many successful days, but even by his standards March 3 at Santa Anita was huge. After Baffert trainees Imagination  and Wine Me Up  ran 1-2 in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Du Jour  grabbed a rare grade 1 turf stakes for Baffert in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T), the trainer added the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) with Newgate .

It was a fitting return to form for 4-year-old Newgate, one of the many Baffert horses who annually hit the Triple Crown trail. In Newgate’s case, Baffert decided to wait, a decision that paid off in his development as he earned his first grade 1 win with a head victory over front-running Subsanador .

“He was immature, and we gave him the time,” Baffert said. “You’re trying to develop them and get them in the 3-year-old big races. Some of them you get to the point where it’s, ‘Let’s wait and give them the time.’ The horses that we buy are bred to go a mile and a quarter.”

That not only means Baffert can point horses for Triple Crown races, but also races such as the 1 1/4-mile Big ‘Cap for older runners. It’s a race Baffert has now won six times, three of those with Game On Dude .

“When I first came here, it was like THE race,” Baffert said. “I remember (trainer) Gary Jones was telling me that the Big ‘Cap to him was the biggest thing. Winning it—it’s just very important. It’s historical.”

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Jockey Frankie Dettori, who piloted Imagination earlier on the card and whose success is worldwide, also is aware of the race’s importance. He saw Alysheba defeat Ferdinand “when I was a kid here in the late 80s.” As Newgate was led into the winner’s circle, Dettori from the colt’s back looked at a friend and said, “I won the Big ‘Cap!!!” A few moments later he performed his famous flying dismount to a huge cheer.

When the gate opened, 22-1 Subsanador, an Argentine-bred multiple group 1 winner making his second start in the United States for trainer John Sadler, flew to the lead. It was a position the 5-year-old tenaciously held onto almost for the entire 10 furlongs.

Newgate raced a little wide into the first turn in fifth, behind Newgrange , who had won back-to-back graded stakes at the current Santa Anita meeting and was slightly favored at 3-1 over Newgate.

“I followed Victor (Espinoza on Newgrange) and I sat pretty low until the quarter pole,” Dettori said. “I took my horse to the outside. I thought I could get to the line okay, and in fairness, Subsanador gave me a good fight. The last 20 yards we got out in front, and I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that I had done it.”

Newgate edged Subsanador by a head, stopping the timer in 2:03.49. Reincarnate  finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the first pair and a head in front of Highland Falls .

Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing was watching in the stands, keeping his eyes on both Newgate and Reincarnate because Starlight owns an interest in both runners.

“At the head of the stretch, I thought Reincarnate had a little bit better shot,” Wolf said. “I think Newgate was the right horse to win. Newgrange has been running very well lately. And then the horse that Brad (Cox) brought in, the 2 horse (Highland Falls), looked like he was a good horse. But this is the Big ‘Cap—oh my God. It’s very exciting.”

Newgate races for a partnership that includes many of the same groups as the ownership of Imagination, both headed by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables.

Newgate and jockey Lanfranco Dettori win the Grade I $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap Sunday, March 3, 2024 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA, giving trainer Bob Baffert, left,  his third stakes win on the day.<br>
Benoit Photo
Photo: Benoit Photo

Trainer Bob Baffert greats jockey Frankie Dettori after winning the Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park

“I’m so happy for the connections—they’ve been with me so long,” Baffert said.

SF Racing, Starlight, and Madaket purchased Newgate and Imagination, Newgate costing $850,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale out of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. The colt broke his maiden in his first start as a 2-year-old and ran second in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) that year. At 3 in 2023, Newgate finished second to Reincarnate in the Sham Stakes (G3) and won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) before Baffert decided that Newgate would do better with more time.

After nearly a year off, Newgate ran second to Richard Mandella-trained Big City Lights  in a Jan. 6 allowance/optional claimer and then second to Newgrange in the Jan. 27 San Pasqual Stakes (G2).

“He’s a big, beautiful horse,” said Baffert. “Unfortunately, Mandella had a scorpion in there (Jan. 6). He ran a big race that day, but he just got beat. In his next race, he broke a little slow and he just needed it. Today going into this race, he was training real well.”

Town & Country Horse Farms bred Newgate in Kentucky from the stakes-placed Majestic Warrior  mare Majestic Presence . The mare is a half sister to graded winner Victress .

Newgate, like Imagination, is by Into Mischief  , as are other 2024 graded winners Timberlake  and Three Witches . Into Mischief has been the North American leading sire five times. The stallion stands for a 2024 stud fee of $250,000 at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington.

Video: Santa Anita H. presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino (G1)

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