CUPID AND GOLD CUP PROOF FOR BAFFERT
The wonderful sport of Thoroughbred racing is rife with unpredictability. That is one of the things that makes it so great. At the same time however, there are a few things that seem to be a constant and one of those is a white-haired rascal that is sometimes lurking in the shadows.
Recognized as one of the top conditioners in the game for more than just a few moons, Bob Baffert has been a recognizable face in the sport. His Triple Crown triumph with American Pharoah in 2015 allowed many to understand his innate ability to prepare athletes for “the big day”. Even though he has been doing it for years, the everyday sports fan did not realize the talents of “Big Race Bob” until he performed the unthinkable. Breaking the 37 year drought between Crowns was indeed a masterful achievement. But in reality, it is just Bob Baffert being Bob Baffert. We were reminded of his presence in the game once again on Gold Cup day.
Cupid is a magnificent looking runner that came into one of California’s premier handicap races as an afterthought. The grade 1 mile and a quarter Gold Cup is not for the meek and has been one of the most coveted races for older horses since Seabiscuit won the inaugural running back in 1938. After winning some of the “dirt road” derbies (Indiana, West Virginia) last year, this son of Tapit had not run since finishing eighth in the Pennsylvania Derby last September. Coming into a race of this magnitude off an eight month layoff seemed to be a pretty tall order. His hall of fame trainer simply said his runner needed the race leading up to the event. Two minutes after the gates opened on May 27, 2017, everybody knew why Cupid was entered in the Gold Cup.
Stalking the pace in fine fashion, Cupid shot an arrow through the competition with a lovely move at the top of the stretch. Gliding home over the Santa Anita dirt with purpose under Rafael Bejarano, this grandson of Beau Genius earned his fifth trip to the winner’s circle in ten lifetime starts. Running away with his first grade 1 win in his first ever start at the mile and a quarter distance, Cupid gave his conditioner a sixth win in the Gold Cup.
Going off at 7 to 1, most did not expect much from the brilliant looking gray colt. His win, however reminds us of one of the constants in Thoroughbred racing today. How could a horse run that big off that kind of layoff? Is that guy luckier than an outhouse rat or is he just that good?…His record speaks for itself.