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    Bob Baffert enters nine horses in Breeders’ Cup
    • October 26, 2023

    Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is as happy as a pig in slop these days. He’s as giddy as Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks fans. Raring to go in the 40th Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita.

    Why shouldn’t he be? Santa Anita and Del Mar are Baffert’s home tracks. He loves it that the historic racing venue in Arcadia will host the World Thoroughbred Championships for a record 11th time at the track dubbed the Great Race Place.

    “We get to show off Santa Anita. It’s the most beautiful race track,” Baffert said this week, a day before pre-entering nine horses in this year’s event. “When I go out there every morning it’s just unbelievable. The paddock and everything. We’re spoiled out here. The track is so beautiful.

    “I’d love for Santa Anita to be the home base (of the Breeders’ Cup). I don’t care where they have it to be honest as long as I have good horses to run in it, but the weather here is great. The past two times they had it at Keeneland we got lucky and the weather was good.”

    Mother Nature was not so kind to the sport in 2007 when Monmouth Park in New Jersey played host and the riders needed boats rather than horses because of all the rain. Needless to say, the event has not returned there.

    “It was a shame because Monmouth Park is a beautiful race track,” Baffert said. “It was a shame that it rained because they didn’t get to … people would have gone back if they’d seen that on a dry day. It rained, it was sloppy, and if you don’t win, you say I’ll never come back here.”

    Baffert will have horses in seven of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, the two-day Super Bowl of racing that determines the majority of the Eclipse Award winners and offers purses and awards totaling more than $31 million. Future Stars Friday includes the 2-year-old races and Saturday’s nine-race card features the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

    A total of 205 horses were pre-entered Wednesday, matching last year’s total, and 59 runners from overseas were entered  – 14 more than last year’s event at Keeneland. Four Breeders’ Cup champions are back to defend their 2022 titles  – Cody’s Wish (Dirt Mile), Elite Power (Sprint), Goodnight Olive (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Caravel (Turf Sprint).

    Baffert, second behind fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for most Breeders’ Cup victories by a trainer (20-18), will try for his fifth victory in the Classic with Arabian Knight, the 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo who edged fellow sophomore Geaux Rocket Ride by a neck in this year’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

    “I think he’s matured,” Baffert said. “He’s moved forward off (the Pacific Classic), which he’s going to need to. A lot can happen. I don’t wanna jinx myself. Two weeks is a long time in this sport because every day we’ll hear something. Right now I feel happy in the position we’re in coming up to it. It’s exciting this time of year because the Breeders’ Cup is two days of great racing. You’re seeing the best trainers, best jockeys, best horses. Breeders’ Cup races are tough to win. They’re just tough. You gotta bring your A game, gotta get the trip because you’re up against the best.”

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    Baffert is scheduled to saddle Prince of Monaco, Muth and Wine Me Up in the Juvenile on Nov. 3 and he’ll be a busy man the following day when he sends out Arabian Knight, Eda (Filly & Mare Sprint), Adare Manor (Distaff), Speed Boat Beach (Sprint), National Treasure (Dirt Mile) and Dujour (Mile).

    He decided to run Preakness winner National Treasure in the Dirt Mile rather than the Classic after a fourth-place finish in the Awesome Again.

    “He didn’t break well and then he made a move like he was going to do something and flattened out,” Baffert said. “Since then, he’s really come forward. His last work, he really earned his way (into the race). I was really happy with it. He showed me a good spark. You can really tell when a horse is telling you they’re coming around. It’s a tough race, but he’s the Preakness winner and he just needs to run his race and he’ll be right there.”


    Facts and figures for this year’s 40th running:

    When: Nov. 3-4.

    Where: Santa Anita.

    Biggest race: $6 million Classic, including 3-year-old standouts Arcangelo, Arabian Knight, Geaux Rocket Ride and Mage.

    Post-position draw: Monday, 4:45 p.m.

    TV: NBC, USA Network, Peacock and FanDuel TV.

    ​ Orange County Register