Bob Baffert's graded stakes-winning colt Cupid got back on track Saturday night with a gutsy victory in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2).
Cupid became Baffert's fourth Indiana Derby winner, most for any trainer in the 22-year history of the race.
Winner of the Rebel S. (G2) earlier this year, Cupid was looking for redemption following uncharacteristically poor outings in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Easy Goer S. After a tardy break from the gate, Rafael Bejarano hustled the speed gray along to vie for the lead while four-wide into the first turn.
In a three-way tussle for the lead down the backstretch, Cupid finally began to pull clear with three furlongs to run. The race looked in hand at the top of the homestretch, but The Player, in fourth earlier, pressed the eventual winner the entire length of the stretch, but could get no closer than three-quarters of a length at the wire.
“That was an exciting race, needless to say. We were all over the place,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said right after the race. Baffert missed the race to attend his nephew's wedding. “It was a wildly run race. For us being in the 11 hole, he had to really get him running early to get over on the turn. I mean we were wide enough as it was, and then had to use him to get there. Then it looked like once he got him in his cruising (gear), we were good. Late down the lane, I don’t know it was. He was still on his left lead, he was leaning in, he was all over the place. could be from being tired, looking, being green. Anyway, we got it done.”
Cupid, owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, picked up $285,696 in victory and upped his overall total to $880,553. His record now stands at 3-1-0 from seven starts.
Bred in Kentucky by JKG Thoroughbreds, Cupid sold to Magnier for $900,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling sale in 2014.