Acclaimed Racing Stable’s Mr. Baker vanquished a field of tough local contenders to win the $65,000 Ponche Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday.
“My plan was just to stalk the pace in third,” said winning jockey Edgard Zayas. “I just had to have an eye on number three (Dad’z Laugh) who was the horse to beat in the race. Once I saw I had him beat, I knew I had the race”
The early pace was set by Risk Factor and the favorite Dad’z Laugh as they battled for the lead while Mr. Baker patiently stalked in third. Heading into the far turn, Mr. Baker came up to challenge Dad’z Laugh as Risk Factor drifted back. Mr. Baker took the lead rounding the final turn, followed by a strong drive down the stretch to stop the clock at 1:10.41.
Though this was the debut stakes appearance for Mr. Baker, his connections seemed to have the confidence of Spartan warriors heading into battle, coming into the Ponche on a two-race winning streak which included a 5 ½-furlong allowance optional claiming race where Mr. Baker expeditiously broke the track record with a final time of 1:04.3.
"He was going into the race better than ever,” said David Delgado, exercise rider and assistant to Kirk Ziadie. “I was extremely confident about him today. He loves Calder.”
The triumph in the Ponche was Zayas’ fourth on the card out of five mounts, and came right after a wire-to-wire win in the U Can Do It Handicap where he rode R Free Roll to the wire in record time.
Mr. Baker brought $7.00, $2.80, and $2.40 for the win. Dad’z Laugh paid $2.20 and $2.10 for the second-place finish, and Trinni Heart returned $4.00 for third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Houston Bull, City of Weston, and Risk Factor.