Monday at Santa Anita proved a very busy day for the Bob Baffert barn, with five of his Breeders' Cup contenders putting in their final works in the morning. Later in the day, when entries were drawn, Baffert's name was called on eight different occasions for the Nov. 1 and 2 races at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert's lone starter on Friday's card will be Fed Biz in the $1 million Dirt Mile (G1). Fed Biz, owned by Kaleem Shah with Martin Garcia named to ride, won the Grade 2 San Fernando S. at Santa Anita in January as well as the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien S. in his most recent start, at Del Mar. Fed Biz will break from post 5 in the 12-horse field, with a scheduled post time of 6:05 pm ET.
Grade 1 winner Secret Compass figures as one of the favorites in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies (G1) after 2-year-old's stirring win in the Sept. 28 Chandelier S. at Santa Anita. The Westrock Stables colorbearer will get a new jockey in Hall of Famer John Velazquez for Saturday's 4th race, which goes off at 3:05 pm ET.
Baffert sends out Book Review from post 2 in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). Owned by Gary and Mary West, Book Review will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard for the 4-year-old filly's last five starts dating back to Dec. 2012. She has not been worse than second in that span, including wins in the Grade 1 La Brea S. and Grade 2 A Gleam H., both run at the Sprint's distance of seven furlongs.
It will be saddling double-duty in the $2 million Juvenile (G1), a race Baffert has won on two occasions. New Year's Day drew post 4 with Martin Garcia. The Juvenile is race 8 at 5:43 pm ET. The son of Street Cry, owned by the Wests, earned his way into the Juvenile with a sharp mile maiden win at Del Mar and a string of recent bullet works at Santa Anita. Two stalls over in post 6 will be Tap It Rich, who had one of the most impressive 2-year-old debuts of the year, with a 4 1/4-length win going a mile at Oct. 12 at Santa Anita. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89 for the effort, one of the top numbers of any of his 13 competitors. Owned by Fog City Stable, Tap It Rich will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Baffert's hopes in the $1.5 million Sprint (G1) lie with the ultra-fast Secret Circle. Owned by Pegram, Watson and Weitman, Secret Circle has won over $1 million with six wins in eight starts. He has worked very well in preparation for this, with a stellar bullet move of 47 seconds flat on Oct. 23.
In the $5 million Classic, much of the focus will be on Baffert's duo of Game On Dude and Paynter. Game On Dude has done nothing wrong in six races this year, winning with authority each time. Mike Smith will be aboard the 6-year-old gelding, who drew post 9 in the field of 12.
Baffert feels he has Game On Dude in better shape than he did for last year's Classic. “I haven’t run him as often this year as last year,” Baffert said. “I’ve given him a chance in between races. He’s like a balloon, when the air gets out of him it takes me a few weeks to get it back in. I think that’s the big thing that’s kept him in top caliber shape this year.
“I think I have him better than last year and I love his post where Mike has some options on the outside. We’ll just see how it plays out.”
Paynter, with his life-threatening battles with laminitis and colitis over the past year, is a sentimental choice in the Classic. He drew post 2 and will have the services of Martin Garcia.
“It’s a miracle this horse is in the Breeders’ Cup,” Baffert reflected on the 4-year-old colt recently.
Paynter, owned by Zayat Stables, has raced four times since returning to action this year, but had a minor setback when failing to handle an off track at Saratoga in the Woodward S. (G1). Since then, he was second in the Awesome Again S. (G1) to Mucho Macho Man, another Classic entrant.
The Classic is race 12 on Saturday, with a scheduled post of 8:35 pm ET.
This is the 30th year of the Breeders' Cup championships, and Baffert is the fifth all-time leading trainer on the money list, with $12,370,000 in earnings. He has had eight winners: Indian Blessing (Juvenile Fillies, 2007), Midnight Lute (Sprint, 2007 and 2008), Midshipman (Juvenile, 2008), Secret Circle (Juvenile Sprint, 2011), Silverbulletday (Juvenile Fillies, 1998), Thirty Slews (Sprint, 1992), and Vindication (Juvenile, 2002).