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A Look at the Career of Bob Baffert
At the age of 59, world famous thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2012, he impacted the Triple Crown by having the second place finisher in each race. Bodemeister finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and then he took Paynter to a runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes. 2013 is looking promising as well for Baffert, in regards to three-year-olds, as he has two of the top two-year-olds, according to Horse Racing Nation. Filly Executiveprivilege sits second behind Dreaming of Julia and recently won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante. His colt Rolling Fog is ranked fourth at Horse Racing Nation and beat out Doug O’Neill’s Know More at the Del Mar Futurity. Baffert has developed quite a following and is a “rock star” of sorts in an occupation that the casual race fan generally doesn’t pay attention to.
Baffert began his career in thoroughbred racing as a jockey before moving into training. His training career started with quarter horses, but left that behind and devoted himself to distance running thoroughbreds in 1991. It didn’t take him long to assert himself as a player in the racing business as he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 1992 with Thirty Slews, whose grandfather was 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Just four years later, he was making an impact on Triple Crown racing as he trained Cavonnier to a second place finish behind Grindstone in the Kentucky Derby.
It was in 1997 that Baffert’s star had finally risen. He trained Silver Charm to within one spot of being a Triple Crown winner, as the colt took the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, before finishing second in the Belmont. Silver Charm won almost $7 million in his career after being purchased for only $85,000. Silver Charm finished in the money 21 times in 24 races and in addition to his wins in the Triple Crown series he also took the Dubai World Cup and won an Eclipse Award as the champion colt of 1997. After the near miss in the Triple Crown in ’97, Baffert was back in 1998 with Real Quiet, a lightly regarded horse that was an afterthought, being purchased for only $17,000 by Michael Pegram. The colt was able to repeat the success of Silver Charm for Baffert, taking both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, only to fall short, by an astounding four inches, in the Belmont, just missing the Triple Crown. In 2002, Indian Charlie gave Baffert his third Kentucky Derby win, and in all, he has had nine wins in Triple Crown racing and finished “in the money” nine other times.
Triple Crown racing may have built the Baffert brand, but his success transcends the spring as he has nine additional major wins, with seven in Breeders Cup racing and two at the Dubai World Cup. Most recently, Baffert won his record 11th Del Mar Futurity, with the aforementioned Rolling Fog. Off the track Baffert has been decorated as one of the all-time great trainers in racing history. He has won three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer and has four Champion Trainer titles. In 2009 he was inducted into U.S. Racing Hall of Fame along with one of the most successful fillies he ever trained; the $3 million dollar earner Silverbulletday. At this time, Baffert has over 2,000 wins credited to the horses he has trained and the number continues to grow.
Bob Baffert makes his home in California and will be a force in racing for years to come. This year’s Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita and Baffert’s presence will be felt as he will likely have as many as eight thoroughbreds competing.
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