A jockey knows his stars are properly aligned when he's unable to ride one of the morning-line favorites and still wins with a lesser-regarded horse. Alex Solis, scheduled to ride Minister Eric in Saturday's $113,350 Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita, leapfrogged to Seattle Borders for a one-length win.
There was a complicated reason why Minister Eric, runner-up to stablemate Action This Day in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, stayed in the barn. When entries were taken, he could do no better than the also-eligible list, and while there were enough scratches to move him into the field, the race conditions stipulated that that could happen only if the stake was moved from grass to dirt.
Seattle Borders had never raced west of Churchill Downs, but trainer Bobby Frankel bought the colt late last year for his longtime client, Ed Gann. From Frankel's barn at Hollywood Park, Seattle Borders graduated from a maiden win in his last start, in October, to a tidy victory at 5-1. Stalking Tiger ran second, Jungle Prince was third and Saint Afleet, the 17-10 favorite, finished fourth.
"I guess it was just meant to happen," said Solis, the meet's leading rider with 53 wins. "I had never seen this horse before, but already I like him."
In races for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, unbeaten Smarty Jones won for the fourth time by capturing the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park; Silver Minister won his fourth in a row, all at Turfway Park, by taking the John Battaglia Memorial; and Water Cannon, with Ramon Dominguez subbing for the injured Ryan Fogelsonger, won the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park as the 2-5 favorite, Capac, finished fifth.... Allowance winners in the 3-year-old ranks were Eddington at Gulfstream Park and Pure American, who beat Gran Prospect at Oaklawn.... Trained by George Weaver, who used to train Seattle Borders, Fond won Aqueduct's Busher at 21-1.... The Very One Handicap went to Binya at Gulfstream, where Lucifer's Stone won the Herecomesthebride.
Frankel and Gann are known for dipping into the Eastern talent pool to buy horses, notably with Medaglia d'Oro and Peace Rules, who have earned almost $6 million combined. Peace Rules is one of the favorites in today's $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds.... There were two winning tickets on the Magna Pick Five, each worth $205,703.