How to bet the Affirmed Stakes
A compact field of five three-year-olds will travel 1 1/16 miles on the Santa Anita dirt in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed S. (G3). Conditioner Bob Baffert has a pair of prime contenders in the field, and I will side with one of them in this competitive heat who might be decent value in a small cast.
#4 Defunded will put the blinkers back on for his return to the Golden State and I believe that the equipment change will greatly benefit the son of Dialed In. Bred in the Bluegrass State, the gelding graduated in fine style on the surface in his 2021 debut and has faced a pair of very difficult assignments in the interim.
The chestnut finished well back in fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind a trio of talented sophomores, and he made an eye-catching middle move in the recent Pat Day Mile S. (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard before tiring to fourth late. Defunded shows a trio of solid morning drills since that performance, and I expect him to get a solid voyage from third to the top of the lane on Sunday with Cedillo on board.
Baffert’s #1 Classier was a superb debut winner and thrown right into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his second lifetime outing last season. The $775,000 son of Empire Maker gets Prat to ride off the bench and will run with the absence of blinkers for the first time. The Kentucky-bred has been posting swift drills in advance of his three-year-old bow, and I love the confidence from the barn to opt for this event off the long break.
#3 The Chosen Vron is the third major contender in the cast and deserves to be the favorite. The California-bred son of Vronsky is a very talented youngster who was ultra impressive in his facile Laz Barerra S. (G3) triumph last time out. The Eric Kruljac pupil has finished off his races like a sophomore who will thrive with added ground, but he still has to prove capable of being as effective at two turns before I can single him at a short price. Rispoli stays in the silks atop the son of Vronsky.
#2 Jimmy Irish has yet to try the dirt, and while he will be part of the early pace, I can’t endorse him with confidence. #5 Mr. Impossible broke through the maiden ranks with his best run to date most recently, but the class hike might be a bit much at this stage of his development. I will not include the pair in my wagers.
- $20 win #4 Defunded ($20)
- $10 exacta box 1-4 ($20)