Mor Spirit and Toews On Ice finished one-two in Saturday’s $350,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), giving the trainer his second consecutive win in the race and a record eighth overall in the race, which was run at Hollywood Park from 1981-2013.
Mor Spirit was keen out of the gate in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile contest, but Gary Stevens eased the son of Eskendereya back, while Toews On Ice went head-to-head with Frank Conversation. The top two set the pace for six furlongs, which went in 1:11.53.
Mor Spirit was three wide on the final turn, but in the clear and made a bold move to the leaders at the top of the stretch. Toews On Ice shook clear of Frank Conversation and had the lead with a furlong to run, but Mor Spirit had the momentum and went on to win by 1 ¼-lengths, with Toews On Ice six clear of third-place finisher I’malreadythere.
“Gary knows how to ride this horse,” said Baffert, who became the all-time leading trainer at Los Alamitos by stakes wins. “In the race at Churchill Downs (the Kentucky Jockey Club S. Nov. 28) I didn’t want to take a chance of taking him back and getting mud (the track was sloppy) kicked in his face, so we sent him up in there. I just told Gary today ride him like you usually do and let him sit and finish. Turning for home it was a good feeling. I knew I was going to win the race, just didn’t know with which one. This is the time of the year when you want to see something like this.”
“I’m super excited about this colt,” Stevens added. “The way the race looked like it might set up, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we were sitting last early. He’s very intelligent and he settled nicely for me. I just let him gallop until the eighth pole. He’s really progressed since his first start and he’s going to get better and better with more experience and distance.’’
Mor Spirit was second in his sprinting debut at Santa Anita Park before winning a one-mile maiden affair in late October, then ran second at Churchill Downs last month. His record now stands at 2-2-0 in four starts, with earnings of $288,400.
The winner is owned by Michael Petersen. Mor Spirit earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series, and has 14 overall.
Baffert’s Futurity winners include Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet (1997), Horse of the Year Point Given (2000), and champion 3-year-old Lookin At Lucky (2009).