HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Baffert Ready to Lock n' Load

He may have been second best throughout the Triple Crown, but something tells me Bob Baffert will not be second best at all this summer. He has two top three year olds in Paynter and Bodemeister, both of whom finished 2nd in Triple Crown races. Bode gave I’ll Have Another all he wanted in each the Derby and Preakness while Paynter finally lived up to expectations when he made the talented Union Rags work to show his dominance in the Belmont Stakes. In the older division he has the top older male in Game on Dude, who also happens to love Santa Anita, the very track the Breeders Cup will be held at this year.
The only problem with having so many aces is figuring out where on earth to run each of them. Both Paynter and Bodemeister are owned by the same owner and ridden by the same jockey, which presents a bit of a problem. Bode is already pointed towards the Haskell, a good move, so what does that mean for Paynter? Does he stay in California for the Swaps or run in the Jim Dandy on the same weekend as the Haskell? After the Haskell then what does Baffert do? If both horses win and win well he has two very legit shots at the Travers, knowing both horses are capable of getting 10 furlongs. However, Mike Smith can’t ride both horses. Does he try to find another place for one of them? Or does he make Smith have to choose by entering them both in the Travers?
Personally, I see no reason to make Smith or Zayat choose. You have two top notch three year olds, both plenty capable of winning against their own age group, and both certainly have the talent to step up in the older division. Especially since that division would seem suspect. If both seem to be winning like gangbusters in their next start why not enter Bode in the Travers. Afterall, I can only imagine how much fans would be salivating when they here of potential race involving a Bode vs Union Rags match up. For Paynter, let him step up and take on older in the Woodward the following week. This is a suspect group of older, and while as of now Wise Dan and Successful Dan look to be at the forefront of the east coast division, they are not proven outside of Churchill Downs. To Honor and Serve and Mucho Macho Man would need to step up off their last races to make a good race out of it, should the choose that as a spot.
So, for Bode we have the Haskell and Travers and for Paynter the Swaps/Jim Dandy and the Woodward. That takes care of the summer, but then what about the Fall? This would seem easier than the Summer, but that’s just me. Keep one in New York for the Gold Cup and send the other to the Pennsylvania Derby while keeping Game on Dude at his favorite track, Santa Anita for the Goodwood. However, this time I would pull a switcheroo and enter Bodemeister in the Gold Cup against older and Paynter in the Pennsylvania Derby.
So, what do you think, gang …. Baffert? Does this sound like a plan?


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Older Comments about Baffert Ready to Lock n' Load...

I'm waiting for a little love reunion....Chantal on Game on Dude & Mike on Bodemeister in the BC Classic for team Baffert. They're so competitive both horses may be spent by the 3/4 mark. What's the opening half mile in that race 45 2/5?
Sounds good to me but it looks like Baffert is going to run Bode in the Haskell and Paynter in the Travers. After August he needs to start planning the best route to the Breeders Cup, it will be hard with 3 good horses all with the same running style, but I believed this year the best place to get ready for the Breeders Cup is in California. By the way I agree that this group of older horses, except for a very good group of milers, is not the strongest.
Game On Dude may love Santa Anita, but he hates Del Mar. I hope they send him to Saratoga for the Whitney/Woodward. I also hope Baffert sends one of his colts to LAD for the Super Derby - maybe Blueskiesnrainbows? He's definitely got a hot barn!
Can't wait for Del Mar!
who would those speedy older males be? mucho macho man? He lost his last by a long way. The two dans are unproven outside of Churchill. To honor and serve has lost his last. shack is not at his best going over a mile. the older makes are far more suspect going routes than the three year olds. Its no contest.
I think Calvin Borel is perfect for Paynter. He would have scraped the paint off that fence yesterday and kept Rags from getting through. Keep Mike on Bodemeister.
Yes why would he run them against each other this summer? two speedballs would only weaken each other i'm afraid they would be the death of each other in a race. rematch bode and rags to maybe excuse the 7th place derby finish if rags wins
Paynter should NOT run against older horses, especially the very fast older horses that are out there this year.
A suspect group of elders on the East Coast? I would have to disagree with you, I think the 3-year olds are a suspect bunch.....just my opinon.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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