Baffert Has Strong Group of Breeders’ Cup Contenders


Trainer Bob Baffert has contenders in four Breeders’ Cup races this year. (Photo by Kaz Ishida/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Trainer Bob Baffert has won 14 Breeder’s races in his Hall of Fame career and has top contenders in four of the championship races this year as he closes in on becoming the all-time leader in wins.

Only fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won more Breeders’ Cup races with 20. Baffert leads all trainers in money won with $27,605,000. His 14 wins have come from 108 starters. Lukas has started a record 164 starters.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

On Friday Baffert will saddle Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the undefeated colt likely will be the betting favorite. The $110,000 Keeneland purchase is by Candy Ride out of a A.P. Indy mare.

He broke his maiden in his debut at Del Mar by 5 ¾ lengths, won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and then took the American Pharaoh (G1) at Santa Anita in his first trip around two turns.

Baffert was just unstoppable at the Del Mar meeting with juveniles this summer. He started 19 two-year-olds and won with a dozen of them. Dating back six months, Baffert has won with 19 of his 35 two-year-olds overall.

In the Juvenile, Baffert has started 25 runners and has won the race three times, with Vindication in 2002, Midshipman in 2008 and New Year’s Day in 2013. Last year he sent out Solomini to run second.

2018 American Pharoah Replay

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Baffert is 0 for 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) but will saddle two of the leading contenders this year in Marley’s Freedom and Dream Tree.

Marley’s Freedom has made three starts for Baffert since coming over from the Bob Hess barn and she is perfect in those three outings. She won the Desert Stormer (G3) by 7 ¼ lengths earning career top Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in her first start for the barn.

She followed that up with wins in the Great Lady M (G2) at Los Alamitos and won the Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga going seven furlongs in her last outing on Aug. 25.

The daughter of Blame has won 6 of 12 starts in her career with earnings of $628,435.

Dream Tree is undefeated in five career start and has won from six furlong to 1 1/16 miles. She came off a seven-month layoff last out to win the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga by 4 ¼ lengths with a career top Beyer of 100.

2018 Ballerina Replay

Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Abel Tasman is looking to improve off her game runner up finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to Forever Unbridled. Of Baffert’s five starters in the Distaff she is the lone runner that has landed in the exacta.

She looked like she was well on her way to being the favorite in this year’s Distaff until she tossed in a clunker in the Zenyatta (G1) last out at Santa Anita where she was a disappointing fifth as the chalk.

She won the Ogden Phipps (G1) in June at Belmont Park and the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga in August. The question for handicappers is which Abel Tasman shows up? The filly is currently the second choice in early Distaff betting at USRacing at 7-2.

Vale Dori gives Baffert a good back up. The six-year-old mare pulled off the upset in the Zenyatta at 11-1. It is her lone win in five starts this year after a productive 2017 campaign. She won 4 of 6 last year including the Santa Margarita (G1) and her two losses were both by a neck in Grade 1 company.

In her career she has won 10 of her 21 career starts and has earned $1,365,567. She is at 10-1 in early Distaff wagering at USRacing.

2018 Zenyatta Replay

Breeders’ Cup Classic

West Coast ran third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and that ended a three-year reign for Baffert in this race (Baffert’s Collected ran second). The trainer won with Bayern in 2014, American Pharoah in 2015 and Arrogate in 2016. Note that trio were all three-year-olds.

West Coast has made just three starts since last year’s Classic and has not landed in the winner’s circle although he ran well in each of those outings.

He was second to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January and then was second to Thunder Snow in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March.

The colt returned off the bench in the Awesome Again on Sept. 29 and ran well in a runner up finish to Accelerate, who is the early betting favorite for the Classic at 11-5 at USRacing. West Coast is the current second choice at 7-2.

Sure enough Baffert does have a live three-year-old in this year’s Classic in McKinzie. The colt missed the Triple Crown races this spring and spent the summer on the bench. He came back with a strong win in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) on Sept. 22 at Parx Racing and earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure, a career best.

The colt is currently the third choice in early Classic wagering at US Racing at 6-1.

Collected also will be making his second start off the bench in the Classic. The son of City Zip ran second in last year’s Classic at 6-1.

The five-year-old has made just two starts this year. He tired to finished seventh in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and then off an eighth month layoff he was a disappointing fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes. He can be had at 25-1 at USRacing in early Classic wagering.

The Hall of Fame trainer is going to be dangerous in all four starts. The Over/Under on how many wins he has? Let’s set the line at 1.5.

2018 Awesome Again Replay


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