Baffert: Don't toss Improbable, other Kentucky Derby insights

Baffert: Don't toss Improbable, other Kentucky Derby insights
Photo: Jonathan Lintner

Bob Baffert made a surprise stop in at Churchill Downs on Monday, traveling to oversee one from his Kentucky Derby 2019 trio, Improbable, work through a half mile in 48 seconds for the colt’s first move since his runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

The Hall of Famer said only WinStar’s Elliott Walden, who heads the partnership behind Improbable, knew he’d be stopping in Kentucky on his way to the OBS Spring Sale that starts Tuesday.

“He went very well,” Baffert said of Improbable, who worked without blinkers, galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.40. “He went nice. Cruised around there. He's happy. For a horse that just ran and shipped twice, he looks great. He looks fantastic. Don't throw him out."

Whereas Improbable shipped in from Oaklawn Park, Baffert has a decision to make on his other two runners, the 1-2 finishers of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in Roadster and Game Winner. Planes leave from California on both Wednesday and Saturday.

Baffert did indicate he’d be back at Churchill by the end of the week, so those colts could perform their final works under the Twin Spires.

“They’ve been training in California, where our track’s been really deep,” Baffert said. “It has a lot of sand to it after all the rain. When they come here, it’s like they kick their combat boots off. They bounce over this track. This surface has always been a great surface.”

Baffert said he believes any of his three horses could win it, pending a good trip and favorable post position.

On Roadster: “Roadster’s the only horse that really closed that day (in the Santa Anita Derby). Roadster has gears. He’s figured it out. He came back and worked really well. We’ve always thought really highly of Roadster, so it’s a good position to be in.”

And Game Winner: “He’s had these really wide trips. He can’t win the Derby like that. I think we’re in a position now where (Joel Rosario) can put him in a good spot. You know he’s going to give it to you at the end. He’ll go a mile and a quarter, and he has a good mind. He doesn’t get upset.”

Baffert said there’s still a drive to get what would be a record-tying sixth Derby victory, tying Ben Jones. “And a seventh,” he said. The Hall of Famer said that while he doesn’t think about the numbers, he noted there’s still a bit of room for big-race win placards on his wall outside of Barn 33 at Churchill.

“When I come in here, I treat every Derby like it’s the first one that I’ve been to. I don’t get ahead of myself. I just prepare them — come in there prepared. It’s all you can do. Luckily, we’ve been here a couple times, and so we know what we need to do.

“At the end of the day, it’s for the clients. I want them to enjoy the experience. I want them to be able to root for their horses when they turn for home. My job is to make sure when they turn for home, they can start dreaming and yelling and thinking and feeling it.

“I want them to feel it all week long. I want them to enjoy it when they go to the parties. It’s about them. For us, we’re just here. We’ll just get them ready — do our thing, and hopefully we get lucky and win.”.

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