Bob Baffert is a four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer who has 12 Breeders’ Cup victories including the last two runnings of the Classic with Bayern (2014) and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015).
In 2015 American Pharoah was Baffert’s lone Breeders’ Cup starter. This year, he has seven runners entered in five races.
DORTMUND had the misfortune of being in the same three-year-old crop as American Pharoah, but still has enjoyed a sensational career with eight wins from 13 starts including a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in 2015.
He is winless in three starts this year, but he has run all three times against California Chrome, most recently finishing second to him in the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita.
He shortens up to a mile, a distance at which he is 2-for-2 including a minor stakes victory at Santa Anita last autumn.
"He's a huge horse and the only races he’s lost were to either American Pharaoh or California Chrome," Baffert said. "He's training really well and looks good.”
NOTED AND QUOTED rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante with a narrow, pace-prompting victory over With Honors in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes, the local prep for the Juvenile Fillies.
“We knew she was precocious, she’s fast, when she turned for home she kept on rolling,” Baffert said. “We know she can get two turns.”
AMERICAN GAL has gone 2 for 2 sprinting including a six and a half length victory in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita on October 23rd just one day before BC pre-entries were due.
“She’s probably the fastest filly in there,” Baffert said. “If they were going seven furlongs I’d give her the edge. We don’t know if she can get two turns.”
Baffert had Mike Smith work American Gal on Tuesday and the filly went a quick half-mile sitting off another horse.
“Mike loved the way she worked,” Baffert said. “I think if she turns and she can get two turns she might just keep on going. She’s very talented and very fast.”
Baffert appeared to have a strong 1-2 punch in the Sprint with DREFONG and Lord Nelson. On Thursday, Baffert had to scratch Lord Nelson, the 5-2 morning-line second choice, due to an infection that needed to be treated.
Drefong brings a four-race winning streak into the Sprint including a front-running victory in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga where he was able to get away with a surprisingly easy pace that day.
“He’s very talented, he’s very fast, he’s going to have to get away from there from the inside post and use him early,” Baffert said. “He’s doing well, he’s trained well, we just don’t know how he’s going to fit in with this group.”
Mike Smith had ridden Drefong in his last three starts, but has chosen to ride morning-line favorite Masochistic in this race.
“I can’t blame him for riding Masochistic, he’s a pretty fast horse,” Baffert said.
After losing his debut KLIMT reeled off three consecutive victories this summer including victories in the Grade 2 Best Pal and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.
The streak ended when he finished second behind Gormley in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. He broke a little slowly that day, was further back than usual and was wide.
Was given a fast half-mile workout on Monday to sharpen him up. He’ll need to be sharp as he drew the rail.
“With young horses in the one hole, they usually break inward,” Baffert said. “He’s going to have to be very aggressive and get him running early. I really thought after he won the Del Mar Futurity I thought I was sitting on the Breeders’ Cup favorite.”
Unheralded 3-year-old entering the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, ARROGATE’s thirteen and a half length victory in record setting time in that race caught everybody’s attention and he is now viewed as the biggest threat to California Chrome in the Classic. He is also the only three-year-old in the race in a year when Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont Stakes winner Creator have all been retired.
“He’s maturing I think a lot,” Baffert said. “The mile and a quarter is not going to be a problem for him. We never set him down in the mornings, the only time he was ever set down in his life was when Mike (Smith) rode him in the Travers. I think we’re in the same boat as everybody else, we don’t know how good he is. He better be really good if he’s going to beat that horse.”
Has trained superbly at Santa Anita the last two weeks.
HOPPERTUNITY has unsuccessfully chased California Chrome literally around the world, finishing behind three times this year including a third in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Got away from Chrome when he went to New York to win a weak renewal of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. It was his second Grade 1 win, his first being the Clark at Churchill Downs in 2014.
“He’s doing the best that he’s ever done,” Baffert said. “If this race was in New York or Churchill it’d give him a little bit of an edge because he likes the deeper softer track. I’m hoping he comes running. If there’s a pace meltdown I think he’ll get a big piece of it.”