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Saturday, May 2, 2020
Nadal's three-length win in the second division of Saturday's Arkansas Derby (G1) came a little over an hour after Charlatan captured the first division...
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Charlatan's superlative six-length victory in Saturday's $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) was just one highlight on super day of racing for his trainer Bob Baffert...
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Nadal solidified himself as a top Kentucky Derby (G1) contender on Saturday with a front-running victory in the $1 million Rebel S. (G2)...
 

About Bob Baffert



Bob Baffert is widely recognized as one of the most successful trainers in the history of horse racing.

After rising to the top in the Quarter Horse game, Bob decided to become a full time Thoroughbred trainer. And it certainly did not take him long to also reach the pinnacle of his profession in Thoroughbred racing.

Through the years, Bob Baffert has registered numerous major stakes victories, earned a multitude of awards and received accolades galore, all stemming from his drive to succeed and his knack of being able to elicit the very best that an equine athlete has to give. In 2009, that all culminated when he was inducted into Thoroughbred racing’s national Hall of Fame at Saratoga.

Probably nothing speaks louder about Bob Baffert the trainer and Bob Baffert the person than the fact that Mike Pegram and Hal Earnhardt have been in racing with him for such a long time. Those two owners have had a long run with Bob, with their association going all the way back to Bob’s Quarter Horse days. Indeed, Mike Pegram and Hal Earnhardt were responsible for bringing Bob into the Thoroughbred game.

"Bob Baffert has an uncannily sharp eye for horseflesh. Nobody has more manifest gifts as a horse whisperer than Baffert"

Multiple Eclipse Award-winning writer William Nack from GQ magazine
The 2007 Breeders’ Cup was especially meaningful for Bob Baffert in that he was able to win a Breeders’ Cup race for Hal Earnhardt and another Breeders’ Cup race for Mike Pegram.

For Hal Earnhardt and his wife, Patti, the Bob Baffert-trained Indian Blessing posted a 3 1/2-length victory in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

For Mike Pegram and partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, the Bob Baffert-trained Midnight Lute won the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Sprint by an emphatic 4 3/4 lengths. Midnight Lute also had the distinction of recording the nation’s highest Beyer Speed Figure of 2007 when he earned a 124 for his victory in the Grade I Forego Stakes. He returned a year later to earn back-to-back wins in the Sprint, winning the 2008 edition before again being named champion and retiring to stud.

Bob Baffert’s zest for life and his pure joy of competing and winning at the sport’s highest level have helped make racing a lot fun for Mike Pegram, Hal Earnhardt and such other owners as Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables, Robert and Janice McNair (Stonerside Stable), the late Bob Lewis and his wife, Beverly; the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman (The Thoroughbred Corp.) and the late John Mabee and his wife, Betty (Golden Eagle Farm).


Silver Charm earned $6,944,369 before being retired to stud.
Bob and Beverly Lewis and Bob Baffert struck gold with Silver Charm. An $85,000 purchase, Silver Charm earned $6,944,369 before being retired to stud. Silver Charm’s racing career was highlighted by victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1997 and the rich Dubai World Cup in 1998.

After coming within three-quarters of a length of sweeping the coveted Triple Crown with Silver Charm in 1997 for the Lewises, Bob Baffert came even closer to Triple Crown glory the following year with Mike Pegram’s Real Quiet. Real Quiet won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before losing the Belmont Stakes by a scant nose.

Bob Baffert thus became the first person in the history of Thoroughbred racing to train Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners in back-to-back years

Real Quiet was purchased for an even smaller sum than Silver Charm. Real Quiet was bought at auction for just $17,000 and earned $3,271,802 on the track.

Bob Baffert has “an uncannily sharp eye for horseflesh,” multiple Eclipse Award-winning writer William Nack pointed out in a story about Baffert in GQ magazine. Nobody has “more manifest gifts as a horse whisperer” than Baffert, Nack added.

For Bob Baffert to nearly win two Triple Crowns as the trainer of Silver Charm and Real Quiet, who were purchased for $102,000 combined, is regarded by Nack as “one of the most startling training feats of the last half century.”

Nack has written that Bob Baffert is “the most charming, engaging, articulate horseman” he has ever known. Nack covered horse racing for Sports Illustrated for many years and is the author of books on Thoroughbred legends Secretariat and Ruffian.

Captain Steve became another success story for the owner-trainer team of Baffert and Pegram. A $70,000 purchase, Captain Steve won the Dubai World Cup in 2001 and earned $6,828,356 during his racing career.

In 2001, Bob Baffert again won two-thirds of the Triple Crown, this time with Point Given.

Point Given won the Preakness and Belmont in 2001. That year he became the first Thoroughbred in history to win four straight races worth $1 million or more (the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell Invitational Handicap and Travers). Point Given also was victorious in the San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby as a 3-year-old.

War Emblem likewise won two-thirds of the Triple Crown for Bob Baffert in 2002. The colt joined the Baffert barn after winning the 2002 Illinois Derby. War Emblem then won the Kentucky Derby (as a 20-1 longshot), Preakness, and Haskell Invitational Handicap.

Baffert came heartbreakingly close to adding to his Triple Crown race win totals in 2012 when Bodemeister (romping winner of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby) ran second in both the Derby and Preakness, then stablemate Paynter would go on to be runner-up in the Belmont Stakes.

Paynter would go on to win the $1 million Haskell Invitational (giving Baffert his third straight and record sixth win overall in the race) and become one racing's biggest stories off the track due to his courageous struggles with potentially deadly maladies of laminitis and colitis. Ultimately overcoming both illnesses, Paynter's story was voted by racing fans as the 2012 National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Moment of the Year. Owned by Zayat Stables, Paynter returned to Baffert's barn in 2013 and ran a 114 Beyer (the fastest Beyer under a mile that year) in his 4-year-old debut.

The most serious event of 2012 occurred in March when Baffert suffered a heart attack in Dubai after traveling there to run Game On Dude in the Dubai World Cup. He had three stents inserted during a procedure after doctors discovered that two arteries were blocked. Baffert sent a 13-second video of himself from his hospital bed in Dubai to Daily Racing Form. He returned to the U.S. several days later and quickly recovered.

Bob Baffert also has trained four Quarter Horses champions, including Gold Coast Express, who was acclaimed 1986 Quarter Horse World Champion. Gold Coast Express won the prestigious Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos that year. Bob also saddled Shawnee’s Favorite to take the Champion of Champions in 1988.

Baffert had another excellent year in 2013, capped by a pair of winners in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. New Year's Day took the Juvenile to give Baffert his third winner in the race, while Secret Circle's win in the Sprint made him one of only three horses in the 30-year history of the Breeders' Cup to win two different races in the year-end championships.

Beyond 2013 Breeders' Cup, Baffert's stable earned $14.2 million through late November. Highlighting the year were the performances of the venerable stable star Game On Dude, a leading Horse of the Year candidate. The “Dude” scored wins in the Santa Anita H., Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic (all Grade 1s), as well as the San Antonio S. and Charles Town Classic (both Grade 2s). In 2014, Game on Dude became the only horse in history to have won the Santa Anita Handicap three times. He retired with just under $6.5 million in earnings and a record of 16-7-1 from 34 career starts.

In 2014, Baffert got his first elusive Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) win with the 3-year-old Bayern, who led the entire 1 ¼-mile trip to win a three-way photo over Toast of New York and eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome. Bayern won three other Graded stakes during the year: Haskell Inv. (G1), Woody Stephens (G2) and Pennsylvania Derby (G2).

2015 was one of the most memorable years for the Baffert team and the racing world. All eyes were on American Pharoah's magical journey as he became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown. A Zayat Stables homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile (who Baffert trained to a runner-up finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby), he would ultimately go on to win the "Grand Slam" of racing when he captured the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in a track record-setting performance. With wins in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Haskell Inv. (G1) and Rebel S. (G2), American Pharoah would be named both Horse of the Year and 3-year-old Male Champion at the Eclipse Awards. These weren't his first Eclipse Awards, as he was named 2-year-old Champion Male of 2014 for his brilliant wins in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and the FrontRunner S. (G1), which has now been renamed the American Pharoah S. (G1).

American Pharoah's stellar accomplishments propelled the Hall of Famer to his fourth Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.

After his remarkable run with American Pharoah the previous two years, many would think that Baffert could have a "down" year in 2016. That proved far from being the case as he would once again be a finalist for leading trainer Eclipse award. Though he did not earn the honor, both Arrogate and Drefong would be awarded Eclipses for 3-year-old Male and Male Sprinter, respectively.

Both Arrogate and Drefong took their divisions by storm starting at Saratoga. Arrogate, owned by Juddmonte, won the historic Travers S. (G1) by some 13 lengths, setting a track record of 1:59.36 for the 1 1/4-miles. The 3-year-old would go on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) over eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome. Baoma Corp.'s Drefong won Saratoga's King's Bishop S. (G1) and Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) during his unblemished 2016 campaign.

In 2017, Arrogate continued his stellar career with a nearly 5-length win in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and followed that victory with one in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). He retired with $17,422,600 in earnings, which at that time, made him the richest horse in history.

Arrogate wasn't the only star in 2017. West Coast won the Travers S. (G1) and the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and was named Champion 3-year-old male. Abel Tasman gave Baffert his third win in the Kentucky Oaks, in addition to winning the Acorn S. (G1) and the CCA Oaks (G1), and was named Champion 3-year-old filly. Baffert closed out the year with 14 Grade 1 wins and over $21 million in earnings, the highest-earning year of his career.

Just three years after American Pharoah made history as a Triple Crown winner, Justify came along in 2018. The "Curse Breaker," Justify overcame the 136-year "Curse of Apollo," becoming the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without making a career start at 2. He made his first start in February of his 3-year-old year, winning on debut at Santa Anita by nearly 10 lengths. In just under four months, he had won a maiden special weight, an allowance, the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness S. (G1), and the Belmont S. (G1), retiring as the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history. He was a unanimous choice for 2018 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old male. Bob Baffert is only the second trainer in history to train multiple Triple Crown champions.

Also in 2018, Game Winner was named Champion 2-year-old colt for his wins in the Grade 1 American Pharoah S., Del Mar Futurity, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. 2018 also saw American Pharoah's half-sister Chasing Yesterday win the Starlet S. (G1) and Abel Tasman added on two more Grade 1s to her illustrious career. 

The Baffert barn recorded more Grade 1 wins in 2019 in the Whitney S. (McKinzie), Santa Anita Derby (Roadster), Starlet S., Chandelier S., Del Mar Debutante S. (all three won by Bast), and the American Pharoah S. (Eight Rings).

2020 is off to a "usual" start with Mucho Gusto's win in the Pegasus World Cup (the first time it has run as a Grade 1), and Charlatan and Nadal sweeping both divisions of the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Bob Baffert has been voted the Eclipse Award as the sport’s outstanding trainer four times (1997, 1998, 1999 and 2015).

Wins in American Classics:

  • Justify (2018 Kentucky Derby, Preakness S., Belmont S.)
  • American Pharoah (2015 Kentucky Derby, Preakness S., Belmont S.)
  • Lookin At Lucky (2010 Preakness S.)
  • War Emblem (2002 Kentucky Derby)
  • War Emblem (2002 Preakness S.)
  • Point Given (2001 Preakness S.)
  • Point Given (2001 Belmont S.)
  • Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby)
  • Real Quiet (1998 Preakness S.)
  • Silver Charm (1997 Kentucky Derby)
  • Silver Charm (1997 Preakness S.)

Wins in Breeders' Cup Races:

  •  Game Winner (2018 Juvenile)
  • Arrogate (2016 Classic) 
  • Drefong (2016 Sprint) 
  • American Pharoah (2015 Classic) 
  • Bayern (2014 Classic)
  • New Year's Day (2013 Juvenile)
  • Secret Circle (2011 Juvenile Sprint and 2013 Sprint)
  • Midnight Lute (2007 and 2008 Sprint)
  • Midshipman (2008 Juvenile)
  • Indian Blessing (2007 Juvenile Fillies)
  • Vindication (2002 Juvenile)
  • Silverbulletday (1998 Juvenile Fillies)
  • Thirty Slews (1992 Sprint)

Eclipse Award Champions:

  • Justify (Horse of the Year and 3-year-old male of 2018)
  • Game Winner (2-year-old male of 2018) 
  • West Coast (3-year-old male of 2017)
  • Abel Tasman (3-year-old filly of 2017)
  • Drefong (sprinter of 2016)
  • Arrogate (3-year-old male of 2016) 
  • American Pharoah (2-year-old male of 2014; Horse of the Year and 3-year-old male of 2015)
  • Lookin At Lucky (2-year-old male of 2009; 3-year-old male of 2010)
  • Indian Blessing (2-year-old filly of 2007; female sprinter of 2008)
  • Midnight Lute (sprinter of 2007)
  • Vindication (2-year-old male of 2002)
  • War Emblem (3-year-old male of 2002)
  • Point Given (Horse of the Year of 2001; 3-year-old male of 2001)
  • Chilukki (2-year-old filly of 1999)
  • Silverbulletday (2-year-old filly of 1998; 3-year-old filly of 1999)
  • Real Quiet (3-year-old male of 1998)
  • Silver Charm (3-year-old male of 1997)

Silver Charm was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Silverbulletday followed suit in 2009 along with her conditioner, and Point Given entered the Hall in 2010. Game on Dude was named a candidate to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020, the first year he was eligible.

Through 2019, Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup record stands at 15 winners with $30,065,000 in earnings, which leads all trainers by earnings and second only to D. Wayne Lukas by wins. As of May 2020, the Baffert stables has earned nearly $300 million in prize money.

In addition to his numerous accomplishments as a trainer, Bob Baffert has done much to help racing. Writers and publicists alike have saluted him for that.

In 1997, Bob Baffert received the Mr. Fitz Award from the National Turf Writers Association. This award is presented annually to an individual or group for typifying the spirit of racing. It is named in honor of one of racing’s greatest trainers, James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.

In 1998, Bob Baffert received the Big Sport of Turfdom Award from the Turf Publicists of America. This annual award goes to a person or group who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with the media and racing publicists. The Turf Publicists of America, in existence since 1951, consists of approximately 180 Thoroughbred racing publicists and marketing executives at various racetracks throughout North America. 

Born in Nogales, Ariz., on Jan. 13, 1953, Bob Baffert:

  • Grew up on his family’s 240-acre cattle ranch near the Mexico border. His parents, Bill (a cattle rancher and Quarter Horse breeder) and Ellie (an elementary-school teacher and principal), raised seven children.
  • Got his start with horses at age 10 when grooming and galloping Quarter Horses owned by his father, and gave his father the first Eclipse Award trophy that he received.
  • Had a brief career as a jockey. In 1970, he rode first winner in a sanctioned race at Flagstaff in Arizona.
  • Recorded his first win as a trainer with Baffert’s Baron at Flagstaff in 1971.
  • Graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in animal sciences and racetrack management.
  • Won his first race as a Thoroughbred trainer on Jan. 28, 1979, saddling Flipper Star to take the second race at Rillito in Arizona. The winner’s share of the $600 purse was $330.
  • Made his first Thoroughbred auction purchase, Thirty Slews, in 1988. Thirty Slews was so named because the son of Slewpy was bought for $30,000 at Keeneland as a yearling. Thirty Slews won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 1992.
  • Has topped the standings at Santa Anita’s winter-spring meet a record eight times. He also has won numerous training titles at Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Oak Tree.
  • Won three stakes races on the 1991 California Cup card at Oak Tree as Charmonnier took the Cal Cup Classic, Ebonair the Cal Cup Juvenile and Letthebighossroll the Cal Cup Sprint.
  • Nearly won the Kentucky Derby in his first try in 1996 with Cavonnier, who lost by a nose.
  • Won the most important race in the Pacific Northwest, the Longacres Mile, with Isitingood in 1996 at Emerald Downs.
  • Trained Isitingood to break the great Dr. Fager’s 29-year-old world record with a time of 1:32.09 for one mile in the 1997 The Bart Stakes on Santa Anita’s turf course.
  • Purchased Keeneland summer yearling sale topper Forestry for $1.5 million in 1997, marking the first time he spent over $1 million to buy a horse. In 1999, Forestry won the Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes, Grade II Dwyer Stakes and San Pedro Stakes.
  • Won the Santa Anita Derby and Pacific Classic in 1999 with General Challenge, who also took the Santa Anita Handicap in 2000.
  • Has won the Cigar Mile in New York three times (El Corredor in 2000 and Congaree in 2002 and 2003).
  • Won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, the female counterpart to the Kentucky Derby, three times, with Silverbulletday in 1999, Plum Pretty in 2011, and Abel Tasman in 2017.
  • Has been the leading trainer at meets at Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita on more than 25 occasions, including a record 10 times at Santa Anita's winter meeting and seven consecutive titles at Del Mar from 1997-2003.
  • Was inducted into Lone Star Park’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Currently resides in La Canada, Calif., along with his wife, Jill, a former news anchor at WLKY-32 in Louisville. Bob is the father of five children: Taylor, Canyon, Forest, Savannah and Bode.
  • Inducted into Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 2009 and the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Named the 2010 University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni Portraits of Excellence Honoree
  • Named 2015 Sportsman of the Year by the March of Dimes (video)
  • Only the second trainer in history to have trained multiple Triple Crown champions

Baffert 2013