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.
In 2010, Baffert notched his record-tying fifth Preakness win with Lookin At Lucky, the champion 2-year-old a year prior who redeemed himself in the second jewel of the Triple Crown after troubled trips cost him as the favorite in both the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby his two starts prior.
Baffert got his fourth Kentucky Derby, sixth Preakness, and second Belmont S. wins (tied for second-most Derby wins by a trainer) in 2015 when the brilliant American Pharoah became racing's 12th Triple Crown winner, breaking a drought that had stretched some 37 years.
American Pharoah returned to the races in March of 2015 with a handy win in the Rebel S. (G2) and a thoroughly dominating performance in the Arkansas Derby (G1). After a brilliant workout at Churchill Downs several days before the Derby, American Pharoah won the first jewel of the Triple Crown by a length under Victor Espinoza, who was also aboard for War Emblem's Derby win. His Preakness win, which came after a deluge soaked the track just minutes before the race, was a seven-length tour de force victory. In the three weeks before the Belmont, American Pharoah continued to train brilliantly and shone brightly on racing's biggest stage, winning the Belmont by six emphatic lengths in front-running style.
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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
Through 2016, Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup record stands at 14 winners with $24,820,000 in earnings, which leads all trainers by earnings and second only to D. Wayne Lukas by wins.
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. With two new champions in his stable, Baffert has now trained winners of 19 Eclipse Awards.
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.
Baffert's other top horses of 2016 included 10 additional graded stakes winners, with the likes of Hoppertunity in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), three-time Grade 1 winner Lord Nelson, exciting 2-year-old colt Mastery in the CashCall Futurity (G1), and Noted and Quoted, who took the Grade 1 Chandelier S.
The Baffert stables wrapped up 2016 with $15,864,326 in earnings and a 58% in the money finish, higher than any trainer in the top 10.
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. 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.
American Pharoah's stellar accomplishments gave Baffert his highest-ever single year earnings of $16,221,741 and propelled the Hall of Famer to his fourth Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer. Other Grade 1 winners during the year were Callback in the Las Virgenes, Dortmund in the Santa Anita Derby, and Mor Spirit in the Los Alamitos Futurity.
At the Eclipse Awards, Baffert reflect on how he thought he "might not ever win another one" and said to fellow finalists Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown, "You guys were looking really strong, had a great year, Until June 6 (when American Pharoah won the Belmont and Triple Crown)."
Baffert summed up his now-retired-to-stud champion: "Everything about his story, and about his year, was fantastic."
Through the end of 2015, Baffert's stable had earned $230,592,025, with a remarkable in the money finish of 52.5%.
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).
Other 2014 highlights included Dortmund’s thriller in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), Hoppertunity taking the Clark H. (G1) at Churchill Downs, Game On Dude winning his record third Big ‘Cap (G1) at Santa Anita Park, and Midnight Lucky taking the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day.
American Pharoah flashed his brilliance in 2014 when he broke his maiden in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). A Zayat Stables homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile (who Baffert trained to a runner-up finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby), he followed the Del Mar win with a victory in the FrontRunner S. (G1). Though a minor injury forced him to miss the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), American Pharoah was nevertheless named 2-year-old Champion Male of 2014.
After a stellar 2012 campaign, 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.
With 10 Breeders' Cup wins, Baffert ranks second to only D. Wayne Lukas in the trainer category. He is also fourth on the all-time Cup trainer earnings list, with $14,355,000.
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). Game On Dude has earned $5.6 million in his career, Baffert's third all-time leading earner, behind only the duo of Dubai World Cup (G1) winners Silver Charm and Captain Steve.
Other 2013 highlights included Midnight Lucky's dominating performance in the Grade 1 Acorn S. for 3-year-old fillies; Secret Compass taking the Grade 1 Chandelier S. for 2-year-old fillies; Power Broker gave Baffert his third victory in the Indiana Derby (G2); Fed Biz's track record-setting performance in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien S. at Del Mar; Fiftyshadesofhay took the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) at Pimlico; and Shakin It Up kicked off the year in style; giving Baffert a record eighth victory in the Grade 3 San Vicente S. at Santa Anita in February.
Reflecting on 2012, Baffert's runners topped the $15 million mark in annual earnings for the second time in his illustrious career. His winning percentage of 29% and
average earnings of $27,969 per start were the best of all trainers
in the top 10 in earnings.
Baffert came heartbreakingly
close to adding to his Triple Crown race win totals 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 early in 2013 to prepare for his return to racing.
Other highlights of 2012
included Baffert getting a record-setting 100th stakes win
at Del Mar, the same place where Baffert claimed his first horse,
with Fed Biz in the El Cajon S. Baffert would go on to sweep Del
Mar's Grade 1 stakes for 2-year-olds later in the meet, with
Executiveprivilege in the Debutante and Rolling Fog in the Futurity.
Baffert has won the Futurity an amazing 11 times and has seven
victories in the Debutante.
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
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.
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,
twice, with Silverbulletday in 1999 and Plum Pretty in 2011.
- 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
- 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)