Horse Racing

Confidence Game wins Rebel as 18-1 shot, earns Derby points Japan’s Panthalassa wins $20M Saudi Cup; Baffert 2nd again Del Mar to host Breeders’ Cup races for third time in 2024

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas. The Confidence game won the $1 million Rebel Stakes at Auclone Park by one stretch and earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

Driven by James Graham, the Confidence Game ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.21 on a muddy track. Removed at odds of 18-1, the colt paid $39, $13.20, and $7.80.

“He had a ton left in the alley,” Graham said. “He continues to grow up and do things right. I think the sky is the limit for him.”

Red Route One returned $8.20 and $5. Reincarnation paid $5.20 per show. The Kentucky Derby points were awarded to the top five finishers.

Red Route One survived a post-race objection from jockey John Velasquez, who unsuccessfully claimed that his colt Reincarnate was the victim of interference. This was denied by the stewards.

After making his first five starts for coach Bob Baffert, Reincarnation was passed on to Tim Yaktin, Baffert’s former assistant. Owners of potential Kentucky Derby horses at Baffert’s barn must be transferred to other trainers by Tuesday to earn qualifying Derby points. Baffert recently lost a petition in federal court to have his two-year suspension vacated by Churchill Downs Inc. before the Derby on 6 May.

Confirmation was fourth, followed by Bourbon Bash, Giant Mischief, Gun Pilot, Frosted Departure, Powerful, Event Detail and Talladega.

Confidence Game was fifth most of the way under Graham, who urged him into turn two. The colt raced down the middle of the stretch before holding onto the number one Red Run.

The Confidence Game was purchased for $25,000 by trainer Keith Desormo on behalf of owner Kirk Godby of Don’t Tell My Wife stable.

“I just choose good horses, we don’t care about the price,” Desormo said with a smile.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Panthalassa led the way to win the $20 million Saudi Cup, by three-quarters of a length, leaving trainer Bob Baffert’s horse, Country Grammer, in second place for the second year in a row.

Japan nearly finished in the top four until Country Grammer entered the home stretch under Frankie Dettori.

The reigning Emblem Road champion was sixth.

15-1 out, Panthalassa ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.79 under Yutaka Yoshida. The 6-year-old overcame the start from the #1 post. He switched from grass, on which he ran 23 of his first 24 races, to mud for the Saudi Cup.

“You know, it’s not easy. Japanese racing drivers are trying their best to improve and develop. Japanese racing has become more international,” said winning coach Yoshito Yahagi.

The $10 million win boosted Panthalasse’s career earnings to $14,418,903.

Yahagi had a winner last year when Japanese horses took four Saudi Cup victories. This year, Japan won three victories.

Taiba, an 8-5 favorite who was also coached by Baffert, finished eighth out of 13.

Dettori and Baffert were also narrowly defeated in the Saudi Cup when Havnameltdown lost a header to Commissioner King.

DEL MAR, California. The Breeders’ Cup selected Del Mar as the venue for the 41st World Championships the following year. This is the third time the scenic Pacific circuit has hosted season-ending split-stakes races featuring the finest Thoroughbreds.

Del Mar will feature 14 Grade 1 races with over $31 million in purses on November 1-2, 2024.

The circuit last ran in 2021 at 50% capacity due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, but still set a then all-source record of over $183 million. The 2017 Breeders’ Cup set a then-record bet amount of $25,181,317 and generated an economic impact of $96 million.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Josh Rubinstein called it a “landmark event” for San Diego and expressed hope that he could build on the success of previous events.

“The prestige of the event, combined with the legendary seaside atmosphere of our venue, makes for an unforgettable weekend,” Rubinstein added in a press release published Thursday.

This year the Breeders’ Cup will be held in Santa Anita on November 3-4.


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