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Prince of Monaco Defeats Stablemate Muth in Best Pal

Would trainer Bob Baffert win the Aug. 13 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar with the $2 million 2-year-old sale topper or the $950,000 yearling? Muth  and Prince of Monaco  made a splendid one-two punch for the Hall of Fame conditioner, and while $2 million Muth went favored at 1-2, $950,000 Prince of Monaco, the second choice at 9-5, stood in the winner’s circle.

One indication as to the result might have been that jockey Flavien Prat traveled from Saratoga primarily to ride Prince of Monaco in the stakes for 2-year-olds. Both colts had broken their maidens by similar margins, Muth by 8 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita Park | Track Profile”>Santa Anita Park and Prince of Monaco by eight lengths at Los Alamitos. Juan Hernandez piloted both of them and stuck with Muth for the Best Pal.

Five faced the starter in the six-furlong Best Pal, and Prince of Monaco broke right with Tranche  and Muth for the lead. Prat quickly backed Prince of Monaco off the pace, however, to race with Who Is Pavel , well behind Tranche, Muth, and Raging Torrent .

“He felt very comfortable out there—felt good all the way,” Prat said. “I saw the pace was hot, and I just waited my turn.”

Tranche, winner of the Fasig-Tipton Futurity at Santa Anita and the most experienced runner with three starts, set the first quarter-mile fraction of :21.76. Muth took over the lead and posted the half-mile time of :44.76.

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Going into the turn, Prince of Monaco made a splashy move to get into contention quickly, as Tranche was backing up, and the two Baffert runners raced together for about 10 strides. Then Prince of Monaco began to pull away from his stablemate. Prince of Monaco defeated Muth by 4 1/4 lengths, with 4 1/2 lengths separating Muth from third-place Raging Torrent, followed by Tranche and Who Is Pavel.

“It was all about the pace,” Baffert said. “We knew that other horse was really quick, and I was hoping Muth would lay off the pace. But he just engaged early. Prat saw what was going on and he took back.”

Prince of Monaco stopped the timer in a swift 1:09.19. That set a stakes record, though the distance of the Best Pal has varied over its history and has only been conducted at six furlongs since 2018. Havnameltdown  set the previous stakes record of 1:10.22 last year.

Baffert trained Havnameltdown, giving the conditioner back-to-back victories in the Best Pal. Baffert’s 10 Best Pal winners also includes champion Lookin At Lucky  . More importantly is how well Baffert has used the Best Pal as a prep for the Del Mar Futurity (G1), which he has won 16 times. Baffert has taken the Best Pal and Futurity with the same horse five times: Worldly Manner  in 1998, Flame Thrower  in 2000, Officer  in 2001, Lookin At Lucky in 2009, and Klimt   in 2016.

Baffert trains Prince of Monaco, a Kentucky-bred son of Speightstown  Rainier , by Medaglia d’Oro  , for a large partnership headed by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables. SF Racing, Starlight, and Madaket purchased Prince of Monaco at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale from the consignment of Summerfield on behalf of breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, which remained a partner in the colt following the sale. In the Del Mar winner’s circle after the Best Pal, Baffert introduced Dianne Bashor as one of the newest partners in the group that many of them call the Avengers.

Rainier was unraced, but she is a half sister to stakes winners Laurie’s Rocket  and Greeley’s Rocket . Prince of Monaco is Rainier’s second foal.

Video: Best Pal S. (G3)

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