Baffert Says No Home Court Edge in Breeders' Cup

The old bromide asked to a man of the cloth, “What does it mean when a boxer crosses himself before he gets into the ring?” that brings the cryptic answer, “Not a damn thing if he can’t fight,” might well apply to Bob Baffert’s philosophy when it comes to running horses in the Breeders’ Cup right in his own back yard at Santa Anita Park.

Baffert, who has been headquartered at Santa Anita for more than two decades, can fall out of bed and be at the Breeders’ Cup when it’s run next Friday and Saturday. Ditto for his horses, who are only a furlong away from their barn to the starting gate, but that doesn’t necessarily provide an edge over those who have to ship in from all parts of the globe.

“The only advantage you have in the Breeders’ Cup is if you have the better horse,” Baffert said, shrugging off suggestions of the home court.

“That’s one thing I’ve realized about the Breeders’ Cup,” continued the Hall of Fame trainer, who has 11 horses pre-entered in this year’s World Championship events. “I don’t care where you go; the best horse is your only advantage.

“Believe me, everywhere I’ve gone for the Breeders’ Cup, the only time I had an advantage is when I had the better horse. If I’m 50-1 and only have to walk about 100 yards, it’s not going to help.”

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Amazombie Friday morning had his final major drill for the $1.5 million XpressBet Sprint a week from tomorrow, going five furlongs before sunrise on Santa Anita’s main track in 1:00.60 on Santa Anita’s official work tab.

“He went good,” trainer Bill Spawr said of the California-bred gelding he co-owns with partner Tom Sanford. “He went in a minute and two-fifths, the last quarter in 23 (and) three (fifths), he galloped out (six furlongs) in (one) 13 and two or three.”

Amazombie, a 6-year-old son of Northern Afleet, will attempt to rebound from his fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6 and become the second back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Midnight Lute won in 2007-08.

Tim Conway Stakes winner Merit Man (Juvenile Sprint) worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:04.20, some two seconds slower than his 1:02 3/5 drill on Oct. 19, but Bob Hess Jr. was not concerned.

“The horse is incredibly lazy,” the trainer said. “I worked him in the dark (Oct. 19) and he galloped around there like a clown in 1:02 and two (fifths). Today, it looked slow, but he followed a slow horse (stablemate Diamond Flush, 1:05.20), and my rider was told to stay in behind throughout until the end, and then blow by, which is what he did.

“I loved the fact that he was aggressive throughout, pulling throughout and blew right by, so that’s all positive. I’m just trying to get him to show a little more enthusiasm (by working in company). He never has, but today he did.”

Joe Talamo, with a nine-win lead over runner-up Rafael Bejarano in Santa Anita’s standings with seven racing days left en route to what he hopes is his first-ever Southern California riding title, will meet and greet fans Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Ralphs supermarket in Arcadia, 211 E. Foothill Blvd.

The likeable Louisiana native rides California Flag in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which they won at Santa Anita in 2009.

Retired Hall of Fame great Eddie Delahoussaye is looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup. “The Classic looks like a wide open race to me,” said the popular Cajun, who has seven Breeders’ Cup wins on his resume. “All I know is next weekend should be great for racing.”

Agent Joe Ferrer has booked Rafael Bejarano on at least nine horses for the Breeders’ Cup, including Game On Dude (Classic), Executiveprivilege (Juvenile Fillies), Contested (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Power Broker (Juvenile), all for Bob Baffert, and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (Mile).

In what amounts to an endorsement of Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet Breeders’ Cup stakes program, all 13 horses that won Breeders’ Cup prep races at Santa Anita earlier this meet are entered in the Breeders’ Cup.

Next Friday’s local weather forecast calls for cloudy skies with a high of 80 degrees and a 10 percent chance of rain, while Saturday’s is mostly cloudy, a high of 81 degrees, with no chance of rain.



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