Dortmund. Believe the hype. This big, husky son of Big Brown is the real deal. Dortmund has the same physical appearance and chestnut coat as last year’s 3-year old phenom, California Chrome. They two may appear to be the same in physicality and color, but the running styles are very different. In Cali Chrome’s 3-year old season, he hit the front and kept going and never had any real challengers until Bayern and Shared Belief were healthy. Dortmund, on the other hand, is a speed horse and a grinder. He has battled a worthy foe, Firing Line, in Los Alamitos Futurity. This will be a nice rivalry going forward. Dortmund was a perfect 3 for 3 going into the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, after besting Firing Line by a head in the Los Alamitos Futurity. We can now make it a perfect 4 for 4, as Dortmund fought back and showed real grit to come back and beat Firing Line by a head (again) to gather up Derby points.
Dortmund handled the mile and sixteenth like a pro. He still seems to be growing into his legs, which is unnerving because he is already a really big 3-year old. When he was pinned on the rail, and Firing Line was rallying up his side, Dortmund gamely fought back. Firing Line, with the veteran Gary Stevens aboard, could easily have pinched Dortmund on the rail, but jockey Martin Garcia kept Dortmund straight and steady and this big horse re-rallied on the rail and caught Firing Line just before the wire by a bob. It was the best race of the day. Bob Baffert and Martin Garcia are a magical duo in Southern California.