Back in his comfort zone on the West Coast, Dortmund, the massive son of Big Brown, returned to racing on October 24 doing what he does best—winning at Santa Anita Park.

In his first race since a far-back fourth in the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1), the colt trained by Bob Baffert started at 5/1 on and sat just off the early pace in the $70,000 Big Bear Stakes, took the lead exiting the final turn, and maintained his advantage to the wire, besting hard-closing Point Piper by 1 3/4 lengths to improve his record at Santa Anita to 5-for-5.

In his first start against older horses, the Kaleem Shah-owned colt hit the wire with jockey Martin Garcia in 1:36.42 for a mile on the same dirt course where he won the Robert B. Lewis (Gr.3), San Felipe (Gr.2), and Santa Anita Derby (Gr.1) while prepping for the Triple Crown.

“He’s back,” Garcia said. “I didn’t think he was going to need a race. I knew he was going to come back strong. … Not for a moment did I think he was going to get beat and I rode him with so much confidence.”

“He has a lot of speed and I liked the way he relaxed,” Baffert said. “We always thought that he didn’t necessarily need the lead. He’s a big horse and he’s learning how to relax a bit more.

“Unfortunately we can’t run in the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe the (Dirt) Mile would have been a great spot for him. I think he’s going to get better.”

Now with a 7-0-1 record from nine starts—his two loses coming to stablemate American Pharoah—Dortmund is expected to race next in the $500,000 Clark Handicap (Gr.1) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. The Big Bear victory pushed his earnings to just more than $1.6 million.