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."