BAFFERT LOOKS FOR MORE DELIGHT AT DEL MAR
If you have ever been to the Southern California coast and visited the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, you understand what a delightful place it truly is. For one particular horseman this is by no means his first visit, but he hopes to enjoy the Seaside Oval once again.
Bob Baffert is widely recognized as one of the leading Thoroughbred trainers in the world today. Based in the Golden State, it should come as no surprise that he has had more than his fair share of success at the track Bing Crosby opened in 1937. In fact, Baffert won seven straight training titles at Del Mar (1997-2003) and is second in all-time wins (443) at the track. “Big Race Bob” has thrived when the money is on the line as he is the all-time leader in stakes wins at Del Mar with a whopping 113. To put that number into perspective, the trainer ranking right behind Baffert is Ron McAnally with 77. So what has allowed the Arizona native this dominance at Del Mar since he became a full-time thoroughbred trainer in 1991?
“Well, it’s hard to be humble,” jokes Baffert. “Really it has been about the horses. I have been very fortunate and have gotten a lot of good horses over the years. We always target the Del Mar meet as one we want to excel at. It is a great place to bring our young horses so we always gear up for it.”
Baffert has in fact been able to enjoy a lot of success in the juvenile ranks over the years. The Del Mar Futurity is a race he has owned. This seven-furlong fling over the Del Mar dirt has been a training ground for five Kentucky Derby winners and is normally the end goal for two-year old males at the summer meet. The decorated 69 year history of the race has seen Baffert in the winner’s circle on 12 occasions including an incredible 7 times in a row (1996-2002). His last win in the Futurity came in 2014 with a horse named American Pharoah.
Once calling Del Mar a “working vacation”, Baffert is looking for more success at one of the most iconic tracks in the country. The development of his juvenile crop will once again be a focus, but a vast array of talent resides in his barn. The highly regarded Dortmund may be ready to give Baffert a fifth win in the million dollar Pacific Classic and other talented runners like Lord Nelson, Cupid, and Enchanting Lady could score as well.
“We are hoping for a successful meet,” says Baffert. “There were a few lean years in the mix, but I think we have a lot more depth in the barn now. As usual, we will be mainly trying to get our younger horses developed, but there are other things we hope to accomplish as well. With all these horses we are thinking Breeders’ Cup and hoping to find out who can be ready.”
If history is a good indicator, Baffert will find some of that Del Mar delight this year as races run through September 5 at this seaside paradise.