DEL MAR, Calif.— He’s been a fixture at Del Mar for nearly 35 years…recognized by most anyone who has followed horse racing in the past three decades. Bob Baffert and his full, white mane are back at Del Mar, greeting and conversing with practically everybody he meets.
He has long been racing’s diplomat with his infectious personality and knack for a good quote or, if you’re lucky, a compelling story. He also has quite the eye for good horse flesh. On this day he’s standing outside his barn, reminiscing about his early days at Del Mar.
“My first year was 1988 or ‘89,” Baffert remembers. “First time I came here they had me in a chicken barn. They don’t have it here anymore, they tore it down and built another building, but rookies got the chicken barn. I know I had Thirty Slews (the eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner) in there and he leaned against a board and knocked all the boards down in the stall.”
Many years later, with Hall of Fame credentials, a couple of Triple Crowns under his belt and a fair share of Kentucky Derby winners, Baffert has brought a string of about 45 horses to Del Mar. He passed on the stakes racing opening weekend but he certainly has the stock to make a mark before the summer meet is over.
Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, et al’s Country Grammer will make his first start since his win in the Dubai World Cup in March. The son of Tonalist is being pointed to the mile and a sixteenth, GII San Diego Handicap next Saturday.
“It’s going to be tight, you know, he’s more of a mile and a quarter type of horse,” Baffert says, “but it’s nice to have a race into him. We sent him to the farm for a couple of months, Winstar Farm, and they sent him back looking great.”
Country Grammar worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11.40 Sunday morning.
Baoma’s Private Mission is coming off a nice win in the G2 Santa Maria at Santa Anita in May and will probably run in G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes August 6.
Baffert is waiting to make a decision on a couple of other top horses. The filly Adare Manor is coming off of a runner-up finish to Interstatedaydream in the GII Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico in May.
“She’s here,” Baffert says. “We freshened her up and she’s filling out but we really haven’t picked a spot out for her yet.” The filly was runner-up to Desert Dawn in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks in April.
Under the Stars is also here at Del Mar but Baffert says he has no plans for her. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile is coming off a breakout win in the G2 Summertime Oaks.
Baffert has a sizeable stock of 2-year olds he’s eager to see run.
“We’re mainly young horses,” Baffert notes, “the way I started.”
Baffert has one running Sunday in Race 4. Owned in partnership by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Havnameltdown has drawn Post 7 in the maiden special weight. The son of Uncaptured will be ridden by Florent Geroux.
Del Mar Press Release
Photo: Bob Baffert (Benoit Photo)