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Defunded last to first in Californian (G2)
Saturday, April 22, 2023

Defunded won his third graded stakes Saturday at Santa Anita Park with a three-length victory in the $200,000 Californian S. (G2).

Things didn’t look promising for the Bob Baffert trainee when he hopped in the air at the gate, spotting the field several lengths in the 1 1/8-mile contest. He trailed the field of six through three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.00, when he kicked into high gear going into the final turn. A sweeping four-wide move on the bend had him contending for the lead turning for home. He shook off Royal Ship (BRZ) in mid-stretch and came home a clear winner in 1:48.91 on the fast track.

“He’s always had a little issue in the gate,” Baffert said in the winner’s circle. “Today, he was standing perfect and right when they kicked it, he stepped back.”

Defunded has earned $1,348,100 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. The 5-year-old won last year’s Awesome Again S. (G1) and Native Diver S. (G3) in his final two starts of 2022.

He finished second in last year’s Gold Cup (G1) in late May at Santa Anita, and Baffert said that race will likely be next on this year’s agenda.

Baffert 2013