Newgrange Tops Former Baffert Trainees Entered In Saturday’s Affirmed Stakes – Horse Racing News

A two-time graded stakes winner, trainer Tim Yakteen’s Newgrange heads an evenly matched group of six sophomores going 1 1/16 miles in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

A winner of the G3 Sham Stakes in his second career start here on Jan. 1, Newgrange then shipped to Oaklawn Park, where he posted an impressive 1 ½ length win G3 Southwest Stakes as the 3-2 favorite. Subsequently the 4-5 favorite among a field of 11 in the G2 Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16-mile distance, Newgrange tasted defeat for the first time as he came up empty through the stretch to finish sixth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths.

Idle since the Rebel, Newgrange, one of four Affirmed entrants originally trained by currently suspended Bob Baffert, will make his first start for Yakteen and rates top billing. A $125,000 Keeneland September Yearling by Violence out of the Empire Maker mare Bella Chianti, Newgrange has earnings of $555,334 and is owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al.

A runaway 10 length first out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs here on March 26 with Baffert, High Connection was subsequently off as the 3-5 favorite in a first condition allowance going 1 1/16 miles on May 8, but he was soundly beaten by his front-running stablemate Armagnac, finishing second by 4 ¼ lengths.

Although he shuffled his feet a bit leaving the gate, High Connection could never get on terms with the winner but will hope to make amends in his second two-turn assignment Saturday in what will be his second start for trainer Sean McCarthy. A $290,000 Florida 2-year-old in training sale purchase a year ago March, High Connection is by the Curlin stallion Connect and is out of the Forest Camp mare Forest Legend. Owned by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, he has earning of $54,000.

Never a factor in his six furlong turf debut Feb. 25, Hopper shifted to seven furlongs on dirt here May 7 and the result was a solid 2 ¼ length win. With Juan Hernandez sticking with High Connection, Hopper, in what will be his second start for Sean McCarthy, will stretch out for the first time and be ridden by Abel Cedillo.

A $90,000 Keeneland September Yearling, Hopper, who is by Declaration of War out of the Caesour mare Irridescence, has earnings of $40,700 and is owned by Lanni Bloodstock, SF Racing, LLC and Madaket Stables, LLC.

An impressive first-out maiden winner going six furlongs at Los Alamitos Dec. 11, Doppelganger, who was purchased for $570,000 as a yearling, has been winless in four subsequent starts, all graded stakes. Following his maiden win he ran an even fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom at odds of 4-5 in the seven furlong San Vicente Stakes Jan. 29 and was then second by 5 ¾ lengths to Forbidden Kingdom in the G2 San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles March 5.

In his first start for Yakteen, Doppelganger never threatened in the G1 Arkansas Derby, finishing fourth by eight lengths at 7-1 and in his most recent outing, he was sixth, beaten 10 lengths in the G2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on May 7.

A bay colt by Into Mischief out of the Quiet American mare Twice the Lady, Doppelganger will be ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke. Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al, he’s got a win and a second place finish from five starts and earnings of $190,700.

THE GRADE 3 AFFIRMED WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER

Race 7 of 10 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT

  1. Hopper – Abel Cedillo – 120
  2. Doppelganger – Drayden Van Dyke – 120
  3. High Connection – Juan Hernandez – 120
  4. Fast Draw Munnings – Tyler Baze – 124
  5. Newgrange – Edwin Maldonado – 124
  6. Pioneering Papa – Umberto Rispoli – 120

First post time for a 10-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. Santa Anita’s admission gates will open early at 8 a.m. for simulcast wagering on a Belmont Stakes Day card from New York.