Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who had high hopes and 10 horses to run
in the two-day Breeders’ Cup events, was an 0-fer for the weekend, but still
managed to smile and put a philosophical turn to things Sunday morning at
“When expectations are high – really high like they were for
us – the dropoff is hard,” he stated as he stood in the company of his
7-year-old son Bode and watched a string of his horses gallop by. “But what are
you going to do? You forget, you learn as much as you can from it all and then
you go on.”
In classic Baffert fashion, he even got a good wisecrack in.
“At least I got home in 10 minutes after the races,” he
said. “I didn’t have to wait around for any ceremonies or anything like that.”
Did the trainer see any sort of key, or pattern, to what
happened to his horses?
“They all got beat in the first quarter-mile,” he offered.
“It was all about position. If you don’t get position, you are in trouble. And
none of my horses seemed to get that.
“Game On Dude was a good example of that. The rider wasn’t
aggressive in getting a spot for him early and he was done. He’s a one-dimensional
horse and he’s got to be near the front.
I told him you better not let them come over on you or you’ll be in
trouble, and that’s what they did. When that horse can’t be near the front,
that’s it for him. Funny how that works with one like him, but that’s how it
“You know, I was in the paddock before the race and I was
looking at all those other horses and they knocked me out. And there were some
really serious horses in that field; some really good lookers and some really
good runners. That Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, they’re good horses. Game
On Dude hasn’t been running against horses like that.
“I went back up to our box and I said out loud that there
were some really good horses in the race and that I was worried. So right after
that the TV guys come around and they ask Bode who he likes in the race. So,
he’d heard me and he says ‘There’s some really good horses in this race.’ We
had to whisper in his ear to say Game On Dude.”
Was Game On Dude’s performance his biggest disappointment of
“I was really disappointed in the efforts of three of my
horses,” Baffert said. “Game On Dude for sure. And Executiveprivilege – I
thought she’d win. But maybe the biggest of all was Power Broker. That was a
huge disappointment. He was outside (post 9 in a nine-horse field) to start but
I thought he’d be up close. He was eight wide all the way. And he never
switched leads. He’s still green.
“But we learned a lot from the race and it will help us down
the line. His race was just like Point Given’s Derby (when he disappointed as
the favorite in 2001). He’ll be fine, though. He’s a good horse. He’s just got
to be ridden differently. And I’ve got to salute (Juvenile winner) Shanghai
Bobby. I saw him with his ears up turning for home, waiting on horses. He’s a
nice horse for sure.”
Baffert was asked to name the most impressive horse he saw
“(Mile winner) Wise Dan,” he said without hesitation. “What
a horse he is. He’s a star. I saw him in the paddock and I said, ‘Oh, man, I’m
glad they’re not running him in the Classic.’ If I had a vote, I’d vote for him
for Horse of the Year.”
The trainer stated that none of his runners had bled and
that he’d had them all scoped to be sure. “Sometimes you might see signs of
that days later,” he said, “but they’re all fine for now.”
Baffert also noted
that his 2yo Super Ninety Nine, who was one of the favorites for Friday’s
Juvenile Sprint but never got to run when he cast himself in his stall that
morning and was withdrawn, was doing fine. The colt had scrapes on a stifle and
his forehead, but did not require stitches of any kind and was recovering well
from the ordeal.
“How about that,” Baffert said, “I haven’t had a horse cast
in his stall on race day in 15 years and here I have one Friday. It sort of set
the tone for my whole weekend. Saturday, I never even got to root for a horse
in the stretch. I could have stayed home and watched it all on TV.”
The trainer concluded that future plans for all his horses
were up in the air for the time being.
“I need some time to let this all settle,” he said. “It
takes a while to take it all in. It’s been a big weekend and there are lots of
things to think about. They’ll all have other days and we’ll figure out what
they are in the future.”