Gary and Mary West's Flashback with jockey Julien Leparoux race to… (Benoit Photo )
It's barely February, so Bob Baffert isn't rushing to anoint Flashback as his top Kentucky Derby contender.
The gray colt made a solid case for himself, though, winning the $196,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 61/4 lengths at Santa Anita in his 3-year-old debut Saturday.
Baffert had a good day overall, with his 2-1 favorite Guilt Trip winning the $200,250 Strub Stakes by 11/2 lengths for owners Gary and Mary West, who also own Flashback. Baffert also won the first race on the card.
Flashback led all the way in running 11/16 miles in 1:42.95 under Julien Leparoux. He paid $3 and $2.40 as the 1-2 favorite in front of 15,349 fans. Flashback won his debut in a sprint race on Dec. 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park by 31/2 lengths.
"You never know until they go long," Baffert said. "He's always shown us he's a real talented horse. We were hoping he would do something like that."
Flashback led a 1-2 finish for the Hall of Fame trainer, who saddled second-place Den's Legacy. He returned $2.40 to show.
He's Had Enough, second to Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita last fall, was a half-length back in third. He's owned by J. Paul Reddam, trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, who teamed to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year with I'll Have Another.
The Wests have seven horses as early nominees to the Triple Crown series, including Flashback.
Gary West said Flashback is likely to make two more starts in preparation for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, which Baffert has won three times.
"I don't want to jinx a horse," Baffert said. "I dream in black-and-white. I don't get ahead of myself."
The trainer has 23 horses as early nominees to the Triple Crown, second only to Todd Pletcher's 29.
In the Strub, 4-year-old Guilt Trip ran 11/8 miles in 1:48.97 with Joe Talamo in the saddle and paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60.
In the $150,000 Arcadia Stakes, Suggestive Boy won by 21/2 lengths under Talamo. Trained by 80-year-old Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, Suggestive Boy ran 1 mile on the turf in 1:32.73.
Revolutionary, last at the top of the stretch, split rivals in the final strides to beat Escapefromreality by a neck on Saturday in the $200,000 Withers Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct in New York.
The victory gave Revolutionary 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. He became another Triple Crown contender in the Pletcher barn, a deep contingent that includes last year's juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby, Violence, Verrazano and Overanalyze.
Bryan brothers are upset in Davis Cup doubles
Brazil's doubles team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares upset the top-ranked Mike and Bob Bryan, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, and kept the United States from clinching the first-round Davis Cup match at Jacksonville, Fla.
The Bryan brothers have been the most successful doubles duo in Davis Cup history, with a record 20 wins and only two losses when playing together. But Melo and Soares beat the U.S. duo for the third time in four meetings overall.
Attention turns to Sunday's two singles matches. John Isner will meet Thomaz Bellucci in the opener with Sam Querrey taking on Thiago Alves if the match is tied 2-2. Isner and Querrey were both straight-set winners in their Friday matches.
Stephen Gallacher of Scotland shot a 10-under 62 to take a three-shot lead over Richard Sterne (66) at the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates and break a three-round scoring record set by Tiger Woods 12 years ago.
The 111th-ranked Gallacher, who just missed out on a playoff last year in Dubai, is looking for his first European Tour win since 2004. He holed a 25-yard bunker shot on the 18th for an eagle to finish with a 21-under 195 in rare rainy conditions in the desert. That improved on Woods' tournament mark by a shot and just missed tying the course record of 61 set in 1994 by Ernie Els.
Sixteen-year-old Australian amateur Oh Su-hyun and 17-year-old Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn shared the second-round lead Saturday at the Australian Ladies Masters at Gold Coast. Australian Stacey Keating (67) and last year's Australian Open winner American Jessica Korda (68) were tied for third.
Officials at Auburn University have announced the iconic oak trees at Toomer's Corner will be removed. University officials said in a statement that the trees were unlikely to survive despite efforts to save them after they were poisoned with a powerful herbicide.
They said a new landscaping plan will be unveiled and the school will host a block party at Toomer's Corner on April 20 to give fans a final opportunity to gather near the landmarks.
Harvey Updyke Jr. is accused of poisoning the trees and is scheduled to go to trial April 8. The school plans to construct alternative structures for students and fans to gather around after big wins and on other special occasions.