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HALL OF FAME TRAINER BAFFERT READY TO ROLL, RACING ICON HAS SIGHTS SET ON 10TH SANTA ANITA TITLE; GAME ON DUDE, TALENTED YOUNGSTERS EYE NEW MEET
ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 30, 2011)—Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, the most recognizable figure in American racing, is poised and ready to go after a record 10th Santa Anita training title as his barn readies for Santa Anita’s traditional winter/spring opener on Dec. 26.
Baffert, whose shock of gray/white hair, designer sunglasses and irreverent quips are as much a part of the American Turf as are hay, oats and water, comes off a huge winter/spring run at The Great Race Place in 2010-11.
Baffert led the trainers’ division for a record ninth time with 44 wins, 12 clear of John Sadler. The white haired wonder was also the meet’s leading stakes-winning trainer, with 11 added-money tallies, three better than Sadler’s eight.
A three-time Eclipse Award winner, Baffert has won three Kentucky Derbies, a total of nine Triple Crown races and he notched his eighth Breeders’ Cup win with Secret Circle in the Juvenile Sprint on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
A son of Eddington, Secret Circle is undefeated from three starts, all sprinting. His first attempt at two turns could come in the Grade III Sham Stakes, for 3-year-olds at one mile on Jan. 7. He is owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman.
A winner of four Santa Anita Derbies, Baffert had been quiet in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap up until 2010, when his Misremembered was victorious and Baffert followed that up with another Big ’Cap tally in 2011, as Game on Dude survived a controversial inquiry with jockey Chantal Sutherland.
Most recently second in the $5 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5, Horse of the Year candidate Game on Dude, owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernard Schiappa, is currently readying for his 5-year-old campaign at Santa Anita.
While his accomplishments over the past 20 years are by any standard, staggering, Baffert is not one to dwell in the rear-view mirror.
“We’ve got maybe three horses for the (opening day, Grade I) Malibu, Smash, Hooray for Hollywood and possibly Genius,” said Baffert from the confines of Santa Anita’s Barn 5, which adjoins the main stable gate. “We’ll see how they train the next couple weeks and make a decision on them.
Smash is a talented son of Smart Strike who comes of a rousing allowance score going 6 ½ furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 27. Smash has three wins and two seconds from five starts.
Hooray for Hollywood is a colt by Storm Cat, out the multiple Grade I winning mare Hollywood Story. He has one win and three seconds from four starts.
Genius, another son of Smart Strike, was an impressive first-out maiden special weight winner going six furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25.
“There’s a lot to be optimistic about heading into this meet,” said Baffert. “The purses are great and we’ve got some very talented young horses that we’re anxious to run. We’ve got some nice maiden fillies and some good looking colts that should be ready.”
First post time on opening day, Dec. 26, is at 12 noon. For more information on Santa Anita’s winter/spring meeting, go to www.santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.