ARKANSAS GOOD FOR BAFFERT BARN
If you ask Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert if he likes sending his horses to the Natural state he will candidly say…”Naturally”.
While ascending the ranks and becoming arguably the top conditioner on the West coast, Bob Baffert has used Oaklawn Park in Arkansas as a springboard to the Kentucky Derby. The Hot Springs oval has been good to the three-time Kentucky Derby winner (1997,1998, 2002). The Rebel Stakes is one race in particular that has been dominated by the Arizona native. Four of the past five runnings of the mile and a sixteenth prep for the Arkansas Derby have been won by a Baffert trained pony. Having led decorated runners like Lookin at Lucky, The Factor, Secret Circle, and Hoppertunity to the winner’s circle, the hall of famer really thinks his success has been one-digit math.
“We don’t ship unless we have a good horse that has a real chance at winning,” says Baffert. “The timing of the Rebel has worked out well for us in the past and we have came in and ran well. It is not really a long ship for us and we like the track. The way the surface usually plays makes it a nice building block for the Kentucky Derby.”
Baffert will be back at the 2015 Rebel Stakes with a great chance at extending his recent dominance. Two-year old champion American Pharoah will be making his three-year old debut and sits at 1-2 on the morning line as the heavy favorite. The race will not exactly be a walk-over for the speedy son of Pioneer of the Nile as Bold Conquest, The Truth or Else and Madefromlucky all pose a serious threat to Pharoah’s run at Rebel glory. But as usual, Baffert appears to have a fox in the Arkansas hen house.
“Pharoah is looking good right now,” quips Baffert. “He’s healthy and happy right now and the best thing is he does not seem to be getting any slower.”
The grade 2 Rebel Stakes will go off as race 10 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, March 14. Post time is slated for 6:06 pm central.