BAFFERT IS FEELING LIKE ONE LUCKY DOG
That age old phrase “one lucky dog” is something one of the most recognizable figures in the sporting world today is applying to himself.
Bob Baffert is at the top of the sports world right now as he prepares to saddle Justify in the Belmont Stakes for a run at the coveted Triple Crown. The California-based trainer has ridden the roller coaster of the Thoroughbred world for quite some time. Winning the Kentucky Derby three times in a six year span (1997, 1998, 2002) and enjoying four wins in the Preakness during that same period, (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002) the hall of famer stamped himself as one of the sport’s elite conditioners. Since that time, the Arizona native has enjoyed massive success in many different divisions of the game, just not the huge wins in the obscenely popular three-year old division that is the focus of Joe Sports Fan. Fast forward to just a couple of years ago and all that changed.
Like a beagle, Baffert has sniffed out a run of T-bones that is simply incredible. In 2015 American Pharoah ran into the history books as he became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years with powerful wins in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. The next year featured the coming out party for the three-year old Arrogate with consecutive wins in the Traver’s, Breeder’s Cup Classic, Pegasus, and Dubai World Cup. That miraculous run saw him become the all-time leading earner among North American Thoroughbreds. Last year featured the blossoming three-year old West Coast as he won the Easy Goer Stakes, Traver’s, and Pennsylvania Derby. Now, with the unbeaten and ultra-impressive Justify in his stable, the recent run continues.
“I am so proud of our team”, says Baffert. “You have to know what to do with a good horse when you get one and our bunch has done a fantastic job with all of the great ones we have had lately. Just like a coach, if you have a talented player, you have to do the right things to get the most out of them.”
Of course Justify is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now as he attempts to become just the thirteenth Triple Crown winner and second one with an unbeaten record (Seattle Slew1977). Time will always lend perspective on greatness, but at this juncture Baffert has not taken the time to think about how good Justify can be or the quality of any of those recent past three-year olds.
“We have not taken the time to reflect on any of them really because we have had to stay focused with that next horse,” says Baffert. “When Pharoah was running it was like we will never have another one like him then along comes Arrogate and then West Coast, and now Justify. Plain and simple we have had a run of real good horses lately. I am one lucky dog for sure. I just hope it can continue for another ten years.”
Of course we know the definition of luck is opportunity meeting preparation. So if that beagle is smart enough to hang out at the butcher shop…