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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

The Baffert Blast

After the Robert B. Lewis only a couple of weeks back, it would have seemed like trainer Bob Baffert was losing all of his best Kentucky Derby prospects….oh how foolish we were to even entertain such doubtful thoughts. Liaison and Sky Kingdom may have thrown in cluckers, but Baffert chuckled as we all began to doubt his Kentucky Derby brigade.
On February 9th, Baffert sent out the promising son of Giant’s Causeway, Fed Biz. While unprofessional and green down the stretch, the colt left no room for anyone to doubt his raw and natural talent. Two days later, a colt named for Baffert’s son, Bode, left jaws hanging as he completely demolished the field in his one mile maiden event. The final time and the individual splits, for such a young horse, were mind boggling. So, the march began, with the likes of Bodemeister and Fed Biz.
This weekend, Baffert sent out a seemingly overmatched Drill. The son of Lawyer Ron hadn’t won since September of 2011 and had turned in three, consecutive, dismal efforts. By all accounts it looked like the colt just needed a rest, and that going up against, grade one winner, Creative Cause and American Act, the colt that beat the ever so impressive Bodemeister, would be too big a task.
All I can say is how ignorant of us to lose faith in the training magic that only Baffert seems to possess. Drill relaxed, rating in second, behind American Act, came with a rush on the outside as they came to the stretch. He went eye ball to eye ball with American Act, and for the first time since Del Mar, fans got to see the grit that won him the Del Mar Futurity. Drill emerged victorious, by a hard fought nose, with Baffert looking as pleased as could be in the stands. It was as if the trainer knew exactly the type of performance Drill was going to deliver.
You would think that the Baffert run would slow down some, but nope, Presidents Day would be the running, or shall I say running(s) of the split Southwest Stakes. In the first division, Castaway, impressive maiden winner dominated the field, giving Baffert the first half of the split race. In the second division he had highly promising Secret Circle. The colt had gone his juvenile year unbeaten, but was a narrowly beaten second in his 2011 bow, which also marked his first attempt at one mile. The Southwest would be his second try at the distance, and boy did he deliver.
Known for his ability to run his opposition into the ground, Secret Circle sat second, letting Scatman take the early initiative. The pace was a fast one, but it didn’t matter. As they continue around the turn, Scatman and Secret Circle began to separate from the field. Into the stretch Secret Circle was breathing down Scatman’s neck. It was a full on stretch duel, that had everyone on the edge of their seats. As the wire neared Secret Circle found another gear, prevailing by half a length, giving a Baffert a sweep of the Southwest Stakes.
Baffert may have been seemingly down and out, but after the past couple of weeks, one thing we all should have learned is to never discount the white haired wonder. If one didn’t know it before, they should now, Baffert is one of the best in the game, and he just proved why this weekend. Beware of him and his army come Derby Day.


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Older Comments about The Baffert Blast...

Fed Biz is the horse. Pedigree and natural talent. Plus, and I know this is less professional, I like the fact that a rider of Bejarano's talent and character came back to the winner's circle after that Allowance win with the look of a kid at Christmas time. He boasted, "this is my Derby horse buddy." Normally I don't get that giddy over post race comments, but this is a leading rider who has been on all the big names out west. He has been on Liason, Out of Bounds, Secret Circle, Creative Cause, and Rousing Sermon. To just chuck them all and make that statement tells me that the horse is special. I was watching the race and the post race. Baffert was genuinely giddy and noted in post race interviews that Fed Biz wasn't even putting any effort into the race. He was running with his ears up. green and didn't change leads until the finish. Bejarano noted that he had alot left and he felt like he was just galloping. This is the one to watch in Baffert's Barn and hopefully he will not disappoint. I have some future wager exactas that are counting on it.
Baffert and Pletcher always seem to have a stream of good horses coming in... kind of like a good college football school having the best recruits!
SC looked a little green coming down the stretch looking around and drifting out then shifted gears at the last moment when the lead was threatened by Scatman...think he'll be fine over a mile but that depends on how bad he wants to win.
Winplacsho, I completely agree with you about Secret Circle. His stretch run in the 1 mile Southwest was terrible. I really believe he is a sprinter, and he would be best served to not even enter the starting gate at Churchill for the Kentucky Derby.
I'm still not sold on Secret Circle getting 1 1/4 & even though the Bob Lewis was a weirdly run race, Liasion & Sky Kingdom were going nowhere before the weirdness started, so my favorite out of his barn is Fed Biz, but he has no graded earnings yet. Maybe we'll see him in New Mexico next, who knows.
Baffert is pretty intriguing, always pulling something out of his hat, observant, & very intuitive about horses and how to handicap.
Liaison is actually still my favorite from the Baffer barn. His last was out of character for him and it was said that he just didn't settle with the blinkers and was too fresh. If that is the case I'm willing to give him another shot. Floridaf, I would not completely toss the race IHA is not a bad horse in the least. His only bad race was over a horrendously sloppy track when running in the Hopeful. Before that he won a maiden and was a good second to Creative Cause in the Best Pal.
I am not too sure about Bafferts Derby chances, it seems like his horses with experience, like Secret Circle and Drill, may have distances problems. And his horses with good distance breeding, like Fed Biz and Bodemeister are short on experience and foundation. He will have some nice horses for the summer and fall, maybe even the Preakness or Belmont, but the Derby will be tough.
At this point, I think that the Robert B. Lewis can be thrown out. That was a bizarre race, and both Sky Kingdom and Liaison can do better than that. But you're absolutely right, Baffert has the magic when it comes to the Kentucky Derby.

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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, TwinSpires.com, 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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