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Horse Racing

Baffert, McCarron Settle Dispute Over Mount for Santa Anita Derby

April 01, 1999|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday he had defused a dispute with jockey Chris McCarron that might have led to the state stewards determining which jockey would ride General Challenge in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby.

When entries are drawn today, Baffert said, Gary Stevens will be named to ride General Challenge and David Flores will be aboard Prime Timber. McCarron, who had expected to ride General Challenge, will ride High Wire Act for trainer John Shirreffs, according to Baffert.

When Baffert said Monday that Stevens would ride General Challenge, McCarron and his agent, Scott McClellan, claimed that Baffert had reneged on a commitment he had made to McCarron. Stevens, Baffert's No. 1 stable rider, had been scheduled to ride Real Quiet in the Oaklawn Handicap on Saturday in Arkansas, but became available for the General Challenge assignment when Baffert took Real Quiet out of the race because he was unhappy with the weight assignments.

McCarron, Baffert said, has been promised the mount on Straight Man, another of the top 3-year-olds in the stable, and will be given an opportunity to ride more of Baffert's horses. Straight Man, undefeated in two starts before his fourth-place finish last Saturday in the Gallery Furniture Stakes at Turfway Park, is not definite for the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Baffert said Straight Man's status will be determined by a workout next Monday at Churchill Downs.

"Chris' feelings were hurt when he was left without a mount for Saturday," Baffert said. "Scott and I had words, but it wasn't as bad an argument as some people said."

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