Baffert says Liaison will run in Derby

Trainer Bob Baffert needed only to see Liaison run in Kentucky compared to California to decide to give the horse a chance in the Kentucky Derby.

”I’m going to run him,” Baffert said Tuesday. ”I love the way he went over this track. What a difference.”

Liaison, sired by Indian Charlie, is coming off a string of poor performances in Santa Anita. The 3-year-old bay colt owned by Arnold Zetcher hasn’t finished in the top three of any race in 2012 after winning the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December.

”Santa Anita, he just hated that place," Baffert said. "He worked well the other day at Hollywood Park, today he went around there and looked like a different horse, like the horse he was before.

"He still has a mountain to climb, but I figure he’s going to work in here, get a chance. End of the December, he looked like he was one of the Derby favorites, but he’s had just really rough outs there at Santa Anita.”

In three graded stakes races at Santa Anita Park, Liaison finished eighth, fourth and, most recently, sixth in the Santa Anita Derby. Baffert says Liaison was never comfortable at that track and looks much better on Churchill’s dirt track, prompting him to run the horse with $393,000 in graded stakes earnings.

”He really was never comfortable at that track. Some horses, it might be a little hard for him I think, and he didn’t like it,” Baffert said. ”And then he almost went down, rider fell, it was just a disaster for him.”

Liaison’s entry likely will give Baffert two horses in the field of 20, along with Bodemeister, who also worked out on Tuesday and is shaping up to be one of the favorites for the May 5 race.

Martin Garcia, who won the Preakness Stakes aboard Lookin’ At Lucky in 2010, will ride Liaison for Baffert.

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