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BAFFERT BAFFLED BY SEMORAN : POWIS CASTLE TO LEAVE THE BEN CECIL STABLES.

Byline: Associated Press

Trainer Bob Baffert has been trying to figure out why his 3-year-old Semoran threw in two clunkers in the Blue Grass Stakes (Gr. II) and Kentuck Derby (Gr. I).

''I can't explain it,`` said Baffert, who saddled Cavonnier to a second-place finish in the Run for the Roses. ''Maybe he didn't like the water in Kentucky.``

Semoran shipped to Keeneland riding a four-race win streak, including scores in the Foster City Stakes and the Remington Park Derby. He was sent off at odds of 5-1 in the contentious Blue Grass field.

''It was a weird track at Keeneland (for the Blue Grass), and the Derby was too far for him,`` he said. ''I think he likes the California tracks better.``

The Phone Trick colt is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Sunday's $100,000-added Affirmed Handicap, and has drawn post position No. 6 for the contest.

''He's training beautifully,`` he said. ''I expect him to run very well on Sunday.``

Semoran brings a four-for-eight record into the race, with three victories on the pace, and a come-from-behind effort in the Remington Park Derby. The colt will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who guided the colt to a 3 1/2-length allowance victory earlier in the year.

''I don't know how strong the field was in Oklahoma, but I think (Semoran) wants to be close,`` said Baffert, who indicated Semoran would likely make his next start in the July 21 Swaps. ''Corey knows the horse, so I won't tell him how to ride.``

In other developments:

Harry Henson Stakes winner Hesabull worked five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 Friday morning in preparation for Sunday's race.

Post positions for the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, listed from the rail out: Benton Creek, Kent Desormeaux, 114, 15-1; Let Bo Do It, Kent Desormeaux, 120, 4-1; Matty G, Alex Solis, 119, 3-1; Hesabull, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117, 4-1; Defleet, Rene Douglas, 113, 20-1; Semoran, Corey Nakatani, 118, 5-2; Slews Royal Son, Brice Blanc, 116, 5-1; and Pugnacious, Chris McCarron, 116, 15-1.

Powis Castle to find new home: No matter how well he runs on Sunday, Powis Castle will be leaving the Ben Cecil stable the following day. He is scheduled to be sold at the Barretts July Sale, as owner Berry Gordy disperses his stock. But a win in Sunday's $200,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. III) would greatly enhance his market value.

''He's doing better going in than in his last few starts,`` said trainer Ben Cecil of the son of Rare Brick, who has banked $569,518 with seven wins in 26 starts. ''He won last time, but 6 1/2 furlongs is too short for him. Seven (furlongs) is his best trip.``

In order to get to the wire first, Powis Castle will have to beat odds-on choice Afternoon Delites, who is undefeated in four starts at seven furlongs and two tries over the Hollywood track.

It's not going to be easy,`` he said. ''But you can't beat him (Afternoon Deelites) staying in the barn. When you get on the racetrack, you never know what will happen.``
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 30, 1996
Words:534
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