The Kentucky Derby and the run for the Triple Crown is a week away. Bob Baffert has won four Kentucky Derby’s, six Preakness Stakes and two Belmont Stakes. This is the beginning of Baffert’s annual Graded Stakes run. He races at the very top of horse racing and at tracks all over the country with his stakes runners.
Bob Baffert grew up on a ranch in Nogales, Arizona with cows and chickens. His father purchased some quarter horses and Baffert found what he wanted to do with his life, race horses. He started racing and riding in illegal races around Nogales when he was still a little boy. He went legal with thoroughbreds and scored his first win at age 17 when he was a jockey. He went to college and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree.
At age 20 he had the reputation on the backstretch that he could train and other trainers tried to hire him as their trainer.
In 1993 when I decided to track trainers in Southern California, Baffert was 39.
In 1994 simulcasting came along and Bob Baffert was immediately noticeable. He was a claiming trainer. My stats showed he was a claim 2 sprint guy. He had a good percentage on claim 1 sprint where he went 28-6-21%. On claim 2 sprint he was 18-7-39% to win.
I have been placing bets on Baffert’s runners since 1994. When he first came up I wanted to see what he looked like. I do that with all trainers. They are stars to me. Baffert had white hair. My guess is he went gray early around the time his father brought home those quarter horses when he was around 10 or 12 years old.
Baffert developed great stakes runners like Real Quiet who Baffert nicknamed The Fish for his slender frame and War Emblem who Baffert nicknamed Hannibal Lecture because he bites. Both of these horses won the Kentucky Derby.
He trained Pioneerof the Nile who came in second in the Kentucky Derby and who went on to win graded stakes races. Pioneerof the Nile retired to the breeding shed. His stud fee is $110,000 where he produced a colt named American Pharoah. Bob Baffert trained American Pharoah who made horse racing history by winning the Triple Crown with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard. American Pharoah has a stud fee of $200,000. What ever Baffert saw in the father he saw the same thing in his son as well as the jockey.
If I wanted to place a bet on Bob Baffert it had to be on the California tracks where he is based. The past four years Baffert went to post 1,330 times in Southern California. 309 won and 236 placed. 23% to win and 41% in the exacta. That’s around 333 races a year, about 13 races every 2 weeks.
The way Bob Baffert wins is very interesting. He has many wealthy owners however, he does not have one dominate owner. 226 races in four years is his largest stable. That is one race every week or so however, Bob Baffert selects every horse he wants in his barn.
Baffert has only 37 races in the claiming class about 9 a year. That is quiet a stat. I thought I must have missed some thing and double checked and nope there were 37 claiming races. He hit the exacta with 13, a 35% exacta rate. How many Maiden Claim races did he run? Only 89 races in Maiden Claming. About every other week he runs a Maiden Claimer. Bob Baffert does not drop from Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claim, the biggest drop in racing, hit the purse and the claiming price and wash him out of his barn because he needs the stall space for another well bred prospect. 26 of his horses were claimed away, 18 were Maiden Claimers, 11 won for a 61% win rate. I do like betting that trainer move Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claim.
Allowance Optional Claim Baffert raced 251 times and won with 62 for a 25% win rate.
These three class levels produced only 377 races over four years leaving 953 races for Maiden Special Weight and Stakes races.
Baffert’s Maiden Special Weight (MSW) races lead directly into his stakes stats. 582 MSW races produced 122 winners for a 21% win rate. That’s around 30 winners a year from MSW. These 122 winners produced 336 stakes runners and 85 wins for a 25% hit rate. That’s around 21 stakes winners a year in Southern California. When Baffert’s horses are entered in stakes races he averages a stakes win around every four races.
Many of these stakes runners will be fuel for me to bet Allowance Optional Claim races. Baffert does not race much in the Allowance class races the reason is purse size. Allowance purses start at around $30,000. He has only 23 starts in that class. The horses going into the Optional Claiming class races is a drop in class. The purse structure is lower; $100,000 for stakes purses and $56,000 for Allowance Optional Claim purses. Bob Baffert gives his pedigree horse a chance to hit against not quite as good pedigree in the Optional Claiming class.
In Bob Baffert’s MSW to Stakes races we have seen an exciting blend of runners and how they win on the track. Except for turf races, on the green Baffert went 141-14-10%, winners. No stakes runners were tried on the turf.
I have recorded Bob Baffert’s stats by hand from the Daily Racing Form to a spread sheet and betting him from Maryland as he came up before he became a Kentucky Derby winner. Then he had back to back Kentucky Derby winners along with a Triple Crown winner.
Bob Baffert started out with Quarter horses and moved to California working at Los Alamitos where he switched to Thoroughbreds around 1992. He started like all good trainers with the claiming game by claiming horses and winning and he got noticed because of his results. Today he still gets the same results as he did in the beginning, just in a different way. I had to change as Baffert’s barn changed and the pedigree improved and it did not take very long. Baffert is remarkably consistent where he placed his horses by class and so were my bets. Baffert did not start at the top. He worked his way there and it seems like he has been there for a really long time.
For the first Saturday in May in the Kentucky Derby Bob Baffert has the 2/1 morning line favorite with his horse Justify.
Bob Baffert has 2 Stakes runners today at Santa Anita:
Race 4 #6 Plein Air 8/5 Stakes on the Turf .
This Stakes runner is a Claim 1 Route on the Turf. Baffert has not made a route claim in 9 years. I had to go back to my 1993 stats on Baffert. He is 11-2-18% on Claim 1 Route.
Race 5 #4 Dr Dorr 8/5 Stakes on the Dirt.
The horse has won 2 in a row.
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