It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions for trainer Bob Baffert these last few months, both on and off the track. In March, he had a heart attack in Dubai as Game on Dude was preparing to run in the Dubai World Cup. He was forced to retire Bodemeister this summer after a stretch that saw him win the Arkansas Derby by over 9 lengths, and put forth phenomenal runner-up performances in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He is dealing with the possibility of losing Haskell Invitational winner Paynter due to colitis and a series of other complications including laminitis and on September 3, he lost his Father Bob Baffert Sr. at the age of 88.
Amongst all the drama and disappointing news this year, his health seems to be better and he’s still been able to put forth impressive results. His barn has a total of 27 graded wins on the year, 2nd only to Todd Pletcher (31). Included in those 27 are multiple graded stakes wins from his three year old filly Contested (3), three year old sprinting colt Drill (2), three year old filly Eden’s Moon (2), older male Game on Dude (2) and another three year old colt Secret Circle (2) who hasn’t raced since finishing 2nd to Bodemsieter in the Arkansas Derby.
He just completed the Del Mar meet by winning both two year old stakes races and was just one win behind Peter Miller (21 to 20) for the overall Trainer standings with 19 less starts. Baffert did however have more earnings ($2,042,502 to 1,077,480). That had alot to do with winning six graded stakes races. He won the following:
San Clemente Handicap (G2) with Eden’s Moon
Cougar II Handicap (G3) with Richard’s Kid
Sorrento Stakes (G3) with Executiveprivilege
Pat O’Brien Stakes (G1) with Capital Account
Del Mar Debutante (G1) with Executiveprivilege
Del Mar Futurity (G1) with Rolling Fog
With the rush of emotions for Baffert and his family, the last two provide a glimmer of hope for the future of the barn. The performances by Executiveprivilege and Rolling Fog have put smiles on their faces. The filly by First Samurai has yet to be defeated in four starts, has won two graded stakes races and has amassed a total of $390,000 in earnings already. Certainly a candidate for two year old filly horse of the year, as well as, an early favorite for the Kentucky Oaks next May.
I was able to watch Rolling Fog live yesterday as the Horse Racing Blog team was on-site for the final day of the Del Mar meet. Speed was holding on the all weather track and that boded well for the Posse colt. An impressive debut winner on August 4th after sitting off the early pace. Made his move at the top of the stretch in the 5 1/2 furlongs race and cruised to win by 2 3/4 lengths. It was no different on Wednesday afternoon. Rolling Fog was the third choice at a surprising 7/1 odds. All the wagering was put on Know More (debut winner in the Best Pal Stakes) and Cape Bastone (debut maiden winner). Both at 8/5 and 3/1 respectively. Fog sat off the early pace set by Caballo del Cielo, then made the same move nearing the stretch turn. He took over the lead as they straightened out and was never severely threatened. He won by 1 1/4 lengths. Know More finished second 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Scherer Magic (Hollywood Park Juvenile winner), who was a nose in front of Cape Bastone in 4th. I’m proud to say we had a nice chunk put down to win on Rolling Fog as he paid $16.60 to win. He will never pay that amount again. It was a steal for one race only. This colt should now be on everyones radar and is a prime candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November.
Life always throws us challenges and this year Baffert has had his fair share. As he continues to deal with his own health, he now has to deal with the loss of his Father and the possibility of losing a great horse. As he’s done throughout his entire career, Bob Baffert will find a way to battle adversity and continue winning races. That’s what makes him Hall of Fame material.