BAFFERT HAS THE HASKELL SECRET AGAIN?
Winning grade 1 races can be quite challenging in the Thoroughbred racing game. Dominating an event is almost unheard of in today’s world. Somebody forgot to tell Bob Baffert.
The William Hill Haskell Invitational is run at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey and has been recently dominated by California’s top conditioner. The mile and an eighth race for three-year olds has seen the silver haired Baffert play fox in the henhouse. Having won this prestigious event seven times overall, the Arizona native has feasted by the Jersey shore, especially of late. In this age of ramped up competition, how has he emerged with feathers in his mouth four of the past five years? Ask him and it is in fact no secret but rather a simple philosophy.
“We don’t go to Jersey unless we know we have got them over a barrel,” says Baffert. “The key has always been good horses, but we are not taking them unless we know they are ready and primed for a big performance.”
Last year Bayern proved to be primed as he took the field gate to wire in winning the million-dollar race. Paynter put on a courageous performance in 2012, Coil came from last to win in 2011, and in 2010 Baffert was loaded with Lookin’ at Lucky. If things go according to plan, 2015 promises to be more of the same as the hall of famer saddles Triple Crown winner American Pharoah for the August 2 renewal.
“If he gets on the plane you know he is sitting on another huge race,” quips Baffert. “I don’t fly them across country unless they look fantastic.”
American Pharoah has given every indication he will be ready to roll come race day. Working at Del Mar in recent weeks, the speedy son of Pioneerof the Nile has Baffert beaming.
“I think he is actually getting stronger and is a better horse now than ever,” observes the one time quarter horse conditioner. “He is just a very gifted athlete. He loves to train and is just so strong mentally. I think he will come in pretty fresh because he has really not had to lay it all down on the track this year. The Kentucky Derby was his worst race of the year, but he still won without over extending himself. There are just not that many born that are like him.”
So does that mean Baffert will once again claim the Haskell? Time will tell, but his success may not be a secret anymore.
The Haskell will be televised on NBC with post-time set for 4:52pm with a likely 6 horse field.