Dortmund: Winner of the “Larry David Award”

Most racing fans see the undefeated Dortmund as a horse who has done little wrong in his 5-race career. But if Bob Baffert could rename this horse right now, he’d probably go with CurbUREnthusiasm.

In a recent interview Baffert expressed disappointment that Dortmund had yet to experience traffic problems. He commended Dortmund for slowing down willingly and speeding back up readily when an out-of-control horse interrupted a recent workout. But Baffert was only hopeful Dortmund would act the same in a race.

He explained that Firing Line surged to a lead over Dortmund a few races ago because Dortmund is a big lanky horse who isn’t “quick.” So much for the perfect record!

Maybe Baffert’s 12-year run of Derby disappointments curbs his enthusiasm. That’s not the case for the racing press, which consistently ranks him at or near the top of all Derby hopefuls.

A few weeks ago on this site, I pointed out Dortmund’s inability to separate himself from some rather sketchy stakes rivals. Prior to the San Felipe his most recent wins were by only a head.

In the San Felipe his main early pace rival, Ocho Ocho Ocho, was pinballed out of the gate and steamrolled on the first turn. That left Dortmund strolling to the slowest half time in the San Felipe since Rafael Bejarano strangled Bodemeister into a geared-down 1:11.1 a few years back.

Many commentators laud Dortumund’s ability to fight off multiple challenges in that race. Take one glance at the chart below and you’ll see how historically slow the race unfolded. That makes the early challenges Dortmund fended off about as phony as a fistfight in a 1950s gangster film.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert needs further convincing that Dortmund is his best shot at winning another Derby. Bettors might be wise to take the same view in the prep races ahead.

Roger LeBlanc

San Felipe Stakes Runners:
Race Pace and Winner’s Time

2011 Comma to the Top…………1:08.4 (1:41.1)
2014 California Chrome…………1:09.2 (1:40.3)
2013 Goldencents………………….1:09.4 (1:42.1)
2015 Dortmund…………………..1:11.1 (1:41.3)
2012 Bodemeister………………..1:11.1 (1:41.3)