Baffert Breeders’ Cup Diary: Evaluating His Chances for Championship Glory

The Life
Bob Baffert (left) has seven runners in this weekend's Breeders' Cup races. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert agreed to share his insights into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with followers of America’s Best Racing. He looks to become the first trainer in history to sweep the Classic in three successive years following victories with Bayern and American Pharoah, the first horse to complete the Grand Slam by sweeping the Triple Crown races and the Classic. Here are his thoughts, as told to Tom Pedulla:

As I look at the fields for all of the Breeders’ Cup races, I have never seen so many races up for grabs as now. If there was ever a time to come out for this event, it is this year.

I feel good about our lineup. We are represented in many of the big races. Our horses are working well. Having said that, many of them will have to step up to get the job done. That is just the nature of the Breeders’ Cup. The cream rises to the top here. That is what makes it so special.

The action starts for us with Dortmund in the Dirt Mile on Friday. I expect him to be tough in there. He spent a lot of time this season chasing California Chrome. Sometimes, a horse can lose his fastball if that happens often enough. I do not see that with Dortmund.

Noted and Quoted (Eclipse Sportswire)
This group is not easy by any means, but it will give him a lot of relief that Chrome is not in there. I also think he will be much better off going a mile than a mile and a quarter in the Classic. My biggest concern would be if Runhappy gets out of there in a hurry and shakes loose from the pack. He could be gone.

The draw for post positions did not fall our way in the Juvenile Fillies, which opens the Breeders’ Cup card on Saturday. Noted and Quoted drew the 10 hole, American Gal the 12. I sure wish I was more inside. Whatever happens, they are two promising fillies with exciting futures.

The Sprint is loaded. A.P. Indian, the favorite, has been phenomenal. I suffered a setback when we were forced to scratch Lord Nelson with a minor injury. He got a little nick the other day that became infected and we had to treat him with antibiotics. It was really disappointing because Lord Nelson is the kind of horse any trainer would love to have. He is as solid as they come. He always shows up. I still have a shot with Drefong. He ran big in the King’s Bishop, his first time in Grade 1 company. We don’t know how good he is.

The same is true of Klimt in the Juvenile. This is another race where I believe the draw hurt us when he got stuck on the rail. I really wanted to be outside, especially with a young horse. I really liked the way Klimt won the Del Mar Futurity, then he took a little step back in his last start. That is the way it can go with 2-year-olds.

Arrogate (Eclipse Sportswire)
There is a lot of talk about whether I can become the first trainer to win the Classic three years in a row. That is not on my mind at all. All of my focus is on my horses. That is enough to think about.

When American Pharoah left the barn at the end of last season, you wonder when, or if, you will have another 3-year-old that takes your breath away. Arrogate did that for us when he set a track record in the Travers. I admit there are a lot of questions surrounding him as he prepares to challenge California Chrome, who looks pretty unbeatable.

Can Arrogate repeat the kind of performance he gave us in the Travers? I think he can run with California Chrome, but can he beat him? Can he be great?

This is a pretty large field considering how good California Chrome has been. I would think some of them believe there could be so much pressure on the front end that there could be a pace meltdown, opening the door for an upset. I also have Hoppertunity. Although he always comes running at the end, he hasn’t had much luck at Santa Anita. You never know. Maybe that can change.

There is so much that goes into having success at the Breeders’ Cup. I always hope that my horses break well, get a good trip and are there when they turn for home. For me and my family, we sure want something to shout about.

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