To Baffert, Breeders' Cup Is Good Business
The Kentucky Derby is America’s race, and Bob Baffert knows it--he's won the race three times--but he says Breeders’ Cup is an inspirational and motivating event. But even though he's loaded for bear this year, the trainer says he only dreams in black and white.
Baffert has started 57 horses in Breeders’ Cup races since its inaugural run in 1984, winning seven races. He also has nine seconds, three thirds and earnings of $10,720,000.
Baffert, who turns 59 on Jan. 13, plans to start 10 horses in this year's even. It's a personal record for him.
Baffert’s Team of Ten candidates are:
--Secret Circle (Juvenile Sprint)
--Irish Gypsy (F&M Sprint)
--Candrea (Juvenile Fillies)
--Plum Pretty (Ladies’ Classic)
--The Factor (Dirt Mile or Sprint)
--Irrefutable (Dirt Mile)
--Game on Dude (Classic)
--Prayer for Relief (Classic).
Euroears worked five furlongs today under Martin Garcia on Santa Anita’s main track in a bullet :57.80, galloping out six furlongs in 1:09.60.
Plum Pretty went six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.60.
Game on Dude went the same distance in 1:12.20, breezing, in company with Amazing Hearted, who went five furlongs in 1:01.40.
Juvenile Sprint favorite Secret Circle went five furlongs in company with Visible Marq. They were clocked in :58.40 and :59.60, respectively.
“Everything went so smooth,” Baffert said after the drills. “I’m very happy.”
The Factor is scheduled to work Monday. “I don’t know how far,” Baffert said, “and which race he runs in depends on how he works tomorrow.”
When pre-entries were taken, Baffert said The Factor might go in the Dirt Mile, that he didn't want The Factor and Euroears to burn each other out.
Meanwhile, Baffert is counting down until Friday.
“It’s probably the most I’ve ever had in a Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “Right now, we’re
on pins and needles. We’re still a week away. A lot can happen, but we feel good about some of our chances. I couldn’t sleep last night, but everything went really well this morning. I’m happy.
“At the same time, I don’t get too worked up thinking I’m going to go in there and win 10. If they run their races, some of them, they’re going to have to have good racing luck.
“I’ve been through it so many times. Charlie Whittingham, his favorite line was, ‘Expect the worst and hope for the best.’ I try to keep myself even-keeled. The owners, they dream in Technicolor; I dream in black and white. We’ve got a ways to go, but right now, everything looks really good. We haven’t had a hiccup, but you never know when that might come.”
Baffert credits Breeders’ Cup with providing the opportunity for industry growth.
“The Breeders’ Cup probably brings more horses into the business than the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “The Derby is sort of a crap shoot. You’ve got to be really, really lucky.
“But the Breeders’ Cup, you can get lucky and find a horse maybe that can win one of the races. I remember I was training quarter horses, and I was watching the ’84 Breeders’ Cup. It was so entertaining and I liked their (TV) shows. Tim Conway did a little entertainment segment, and it struck me that maybe I could have a horse in the Breeders’ Cup some day.”
It didn’t take long. After finishing eleventh with his first Breeders’ Cup starter, Soviet Sojourn in the 1991 Juvenile Fillies, he won the Sprint in 1992 with Thirty Slews.
“To me, the Breeders’ Cup gives people a feeling that maybe they can get into horse racing and compete in that event,” Baffert said. “To me, it’s even more exciting when you win a Breeders’ Cup race out of town. The Derby can be very intimidating, but not the Breeders’ Cup. The Breeders’ Cup is what got me in the Thoroughbred business.”
--Edited Santa Anita release