BAFFERT LOOKS FOR DUBAI DOUBLE WITH WEST COAST
Winning the big ones is a challenge in any sport for sure. Repeating is even tougher, especially in the world of training Thoroughbred horses. The racing game is one that encompasses powerful yet fragile athletes and a revolving door roster. Bob Baffert is one of the more prominent figures in the sport and has done an excellent job of maintaining a winning lineup over the years.On March 31 he hopes to add to that legacy on the worldly stage in Dubai.
The Dubai World Cup was created in 1996 and was the world’s richest Thoroughbred race until the creation of the Pegasus in 2017. A three-time winner of the race (1998 Silver Charm, 2001 Captain Steve, 2017 Arrogate), Big Race Bob is well aware of what it takes to conquer the challenges of running on the other side of the world.
“It takes a really good horse to go over there and run well,” says Baffert. “There are so many factors involved. It is really far away when you think about shipping. Your horse has to be doing really well and you need some racing luck to win against that caliber of competition. This is a race where you can have the best horse but not win because of all that goes into it.”
Baffert pulled it off last year with Arrogate in a marvelous display by the sizeable son of Unbridled’s Song. The hall of fame conditioner did not have the racing luck on his side as Arrogate broke poorly from the gates, but he had the horse so right coming in he couldn’t be denied. Unleashing his powerful stride, Arrogate gobbled up ground and won with perhaps the most impressive showing in the history of the event.
“If Arrogate is not the horse he is he would have never won,” says Baffert. “The race is no cake walk for anyone and he could have never overcome that kind of break if he weren’t so talented. That was one of the more miraculous runs I have ever seen.”
This year Baffert looks for his repeat with the also very talented West Coast. In ten lifetime starts, this son of Flatter has six wins, three seconds and a third. Currently ranked as numero uno in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s poll for older horses, the Coast is coming in off a second place finish to Gun Runner in the Pegasus on January 27. In 2017 Baffert guided the then three-year old colt through a stretch that saw him win five races in a row. Included in that run were the Travers Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby before concluding the year with a third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind Gun Runner and Collected.
“We like what we see from him right now,” says Baffert. “He has been training great and so far everything looks good. He shipped over well and it is all systems go. We just need some good luck and him to run well.”
West Coast will have to contend with the normal contingency of local talent that has the home field advantage. Also American runners like Gunnevera and the ultra-talented female Forever Unbridled will be there. Javier Castellano has the mount as Baffert looks to become the first American trainer to win in back to back years. The race will be televised on an NBC sports network telecast between 11:30 and 12:30 central time on March 31.