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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Bob Baffert has turned inexperienced colts into Kentucky Derby contenders again.
Vindication led wire-to-wire to win the $1-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Saturday at Arlington Park by 2 3/4 lengths over the Baffert-trained Kafwain. He finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:35.80. The horse is owned by Satish Sanan of Clearwater, owner of Padua Stables.
Bull Market, Baffert's third entry, was edged at the wire by Hold That Tiger to prevent a 1-2-3 sweep for the trainer. Baffert's three horses should be considered threats to win at Churchill Downs in May.
"I'm proud of all three of them," said Baffert, who worked for three owners. "It's a great feeling to have so many 2-year-olds."
The Baffert exacta paid $164.60 on a $2 bet.
Vindication gave jockey Mike Smith his second Breeders' Cup victory of the day. Smith started the eight-race card by winning the Distaff on Azeri. Smith also won the Juvenile with Unbridled's Song in 1995.
"I'm just so happy," Smith said. "This colt does what he has to do. He showed 'em. He got away well and took a breather down the backside. But he gave me a burst when I asked."
The 2-year-old colts ran 1 1/8 miles, a sixteenth of a mile longer than in 15 of the 18 previous Juveniles because of Arlington Park's configuration.
No Juvenile winner has won the Kentucky Derby, a race Baffert has won three times, including this year with War Emblem.
"I just hope he makes it that far," Baffert said. "That's the thing, these horses are so fragile."
Vindication may prove different. He was sired by 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
"We have a lot of bragging rights until the first Saturday in May," Baffert said. "We know he's talented and he's good enough."
Vindication paid $10.20, $6 and $4. Kafwain returned $16 and $8.40, and Hold That Tiger, another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, paid $4.60 to show.
Azeri staked her claim for horse of the year honors with a wire-to-wire victory in the $2-million Distaff. The 4-year-old filly, who finished 5 lengths ahead of Farda Amiga, won her seventh straight race and has 10 victories in 11 career starts.
"She's never been in danger of losing a race and has a record that's been rarely seen," said Laura de Seroux, who joins Jenine Sahadi as the only female trainers to win a Breeders' Cup race.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas went home a winner, too. His favored Orientate caught long shot Thunderello in the stretch and won the $1-million Sprint. The win extended Lukas' Breeders' Cup record for wins to 17, and Jerry Bailey won his 13th Breeders' Cup race, the most of any jockey.
Bobby Frankel, who trained Medaglia d'Oro for the Classic, had his best Breeders' Cup, with Starine winning and Banks Hill second in the $1-million Filly and Mare Turf.
Storm Flag Flying remained unbeaten in four starts with a win in the $1-million Juvenile Fillies. She came back in the stretch to overtake Composure to win the race her dam, My Flag, won in 1995. The filly's grandmother, Personal Ensign, won the 1988 Distaff.
In the $2.42-million Turf, High Chaparral found an opening in the stretch and moved past The Tin Man to win.
In the $1-million Mile, Domedriver, ridden by Thierry Thulliez, won by three-quarters of a length in 1:36.88. Rock of Gibraltar rushed through the stretch to finish second.