Life is full of choices and sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Coach Bob Baffert did just that when he first came to Del Mar back in the early 90s. It proved to be a step in the right direction.
Baffert returned to Del Mar for his 35th season. He shared his success at the beachside oval, where he holds the records for most wins against a coach with 596 and most wins in bets with 156. He has won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) record 17 times, including the past two years, and the Pacific Classic six times.
But all of this would never have happened if the 70-year-old auto mechanic had never put his faith in his first study of Thoroughbred horses.
“I’m still training the stallion and I’ve got a really good stallion to take to the All-American,” Baffert said. “But (D Wayne) Lukas told me that if I wanted to succeed (in Thoroughbreds) I needed to get rid of all my precious horses. I had to show I was ready. He said if I got rid of them, my business would double because they didn’t want to see you do both.”
They want to see commitment and Lukas will know. He did the same thing many years ago.
“It’s scary,” Baffert admits, “because I’ve won a lot of big quartet races. Two or three or four a week. Whereas here I win once every three months. At Santa Anita I finished first three times in a row.”
But then Baffert won three Cal-Cup races in 1991 and the rest is history.
“Then I went to Los Alamitos and closed my operation there,” Baffert said. “The last quarter horse race I won was with the son of my first winner at Los Alamitos.”
Now, with two Triple Crowns, six Kentucky Derby, four Eclipse Awards, 18 Breeders’ Cups and one later Hall of Fame inductee, he is one of the most successful Purebred coaches ever and is looking to add to that resume this summer at Del Mar.
He shared the coach title at Del Mar last year with Phil D’Amato who has won it 19 times. It was his first title at the seaside oval since 2003 and it was bolstered by a top 2-year-old group. He hopes to do it again in 2023 but says it all depends on the horses.
“We just let them grow,” says Baffert. “Some can win early. You just don’t know until you run them. They come in batches to get ready so some will be ready immediately, some take longer. We don’t push them.”
Baffert said the goal is to get into some races and figure out how they want to run.
“It’s important to organize races for these 2-year-olds because we want to have as much as possible for Futurity at the end to get you ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”
He mentioned Muth And Prince of Monaco when asked about her 2-year-old child custody case. Both have broken their girlhood already. He is showing this couple for Best Pal (G3) at Del Mar. August 13. His 2-year-old by Arrogate, Coconut broke her girlhood on July 22 in Del Mar.
To his old horses, Baffert said out of money arguably the top handicap horse in the country, is being assigned to San Diego (G2) on July 29 with the Pacific Classic (G1) as the long-term target.
National treasures And Reincarnate are on campus but they plan to fly to upstate New York and Travers (G1) at Racecourse Saratoga. Arabian lion was nominated for Bing Crosby at Del Mar also on July 29 but he could also head east to Saratoga.
This press release has been edited by BloodHorse Staff for content and style.