Given his presence in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar, you’ve got to love Bob Baffert’s chances winning the 2-year-old sprint.

Winning Map-Bob Hope
Winning Map breezed to victory by 4 1/2 lengths in his October debut. He is the 7/5 favorite against two Bob Baffert stablemates and another rival in Sunday’s Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar. (Image: Benoit Photo)


The Hall of Fame trainer sends three of the five entered juveniles into the seven-furlong, $100,000 sprint. Actually, his odds of finding the winner’s circle for the fifth time increased to 75%, after one of the two horses he didn’t enter – Rock N Rye – scratched.

Trainer Walther Solis told Del Mar that Rock N Rye will go in a California-bred stakes race later this meet. He was Jon White’s 15/1 long shot in the field.

That leaves Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom as the lone non-Baffert outlier. He also inherits long shot status at 9/2. That, even as the son of American Pharoah rolls in off a third in the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 1. Before that, Forbidden Kingdom won his Del Mar debut in August.

All three Baffert choices carry low odds

Waiting for Forbidden Kingdom is Baffert’s trio of Messier, Kamui and Winning Map. The 7/5 favorite, Winning Map comes in off a 4 ¼-length romp as the 2/5 favorite in a Santa Anita Park maiden special weight Oct. 3.

Since that debut score, Baffert sent the son of Liam’s Map on five workouts: three four-furlong and two five-furlong. Winning Map hasn’t been worse than fifth in any of them. His last work, a five-furlong trek, came in 1:00.40. That was third of 24 at that distance that day.

Messier (8/5) broke through in his last race, taking apart an Oct. 22 six-furlong Santa Anita maiden special weight by 6 ½ lengths. That victory as the 2/5 favorite came four months after a runner-up debut at Los Alamitos.

Not to be outdone, Baffert’s third entry: Kamui (5/2), won his last race by six lengths. That score at 3/10 came in a 5 ½-furlong sprint at Los Alamitos. His 89 Equibase Speed Figure from that race puts him a notch below his stablemates. Winning Map clocked a 98 last out; Messier a 95. Three weeks before that Sept. 11 race, the son of Quality Road finished third at Del Mar in his debut.

Betting on Baffert 2-year-olds at Del Mar – or anywhere, for that matter – doesn’t come with value. Aside from his four Bob Hope titles, Baffert won Del Mar’s flagship juvenile race: the Del Mar Futurity, 14 times. That includes this year’s conquest with Pinehurst.