Unraced since a rallying fifth in the Kentucky Derby, Game Winner will make an anticipated return in Saturday’s $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G3). Bob Baffert will add blinkers to the champion two-year-old and regular rider Joel Rosario retains the mount aboard the Gary & Mary West-owned colt.
An earner of more than $1.9 million, Game Winner won his first four starts before opening 2019 with a pair of close seconds in the Rebel (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1). The son of Candy Ride traveled extremely wide throughout after breaking from post 14 over a sloppy track last time and passed more than half the field in the latter stages.
The 1 1/8-mile race serves as possible prep for the $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on August 24 and the same owner/trainer connections captured both races with eventual three-year-old champion West Coast in 2017. Game Winner will face only three rivals from the innermost post and shows four consecutive bullet workouts in preparation.
Baffert has also entered Kingly, who will need to improve upon a disappointing fifth in the June 16 Affirmed (G3) at Santa Anita. The well-bred Tapit colt captured the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields earlier this season and Mario Gutierrez rides.
California Cup runner-up Feeling Strongly will make his first attempt at the graded level. The gelding exits an encouraging 2 3/4-length score over state-bred allowance foes and Tiago Pereira will be up for Hector Palma. Parsimony, who is winless from 12 career starts, rounds out the line-up.