- BOB BAFFERT IS THE EXCEPTION AMONG GREAT TRAINERS
- QUALITY JOB ONE AS SIMULCAST RACING OFFERED JUNE 15, 22
- SHEZA CHATTYKAT GOES LONG IN GRADE II SUMMERTIME OAKS
- LOTS OF SPECIALS FOR DAD ON FATHER’S DAY AT SANTA ANITA
BAFFERT, SMITH FEAST IN THE EAST ON BELMONT DAY
Bob Baffert and Mike Smith enjoyed a Gold Rush in reverse Saturday, leaving their West Coast headquarters at Santa Anita to invade the East Coast–Belmont Park, specifically–where they won four and five races respectively on the lucrative Belmont Stakes Day program.
Baffert horses took the Easy Goer with West Coast, earning $87,000; the Acorn with Abel Tasman, worth $375,000; the Woody Stephens with American Anthem, good for $275,000; and the Metropolitan Handicap with Mor Spirit, yielding $650,000, for a grand total of $1,387,000.
Smith rode all four of Baffert’s runners, in addition to two-time champion Songbird for Jerry Hollendorfer in the Ogden Phipps, worth $400,000 to owner Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms.
The five wins for Smith at Belmont totaled $1,787,000 in purse money and marked the first time he had won five races at the New York oval since May 11, 1991.
Smith is the nation’s leading jockey in purse earnings this year with more than $19 million, if his victory on Arrogate in the $10 million Dubai World Cup is included. Otherwise, it’s just over $13 million.
The success of both Baffert, 64, and Smith, 51, is a matter of record, each a member of racing’s Hall of Fame, each a multiple winner of Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races, Baffert of course becoming the first trainer to sweep the Triple Crown in 37 years when American Pharoah accomplished the feat in 2015, and each an icon in more ways than one.
Just ask their peers.
“Yes, great horses make Bob a great trainer,” conceded fellow trainer Eoin Harty,
Baffert’s assistant for nine years before going on his own in 2001.
“But what makes him an exception is that he’s in charge of his own destiny. He buys his horses; he doesn’t rely on somebody else to pick them for him, he doesn’t rely on anybody else to send them to him.
“He has enough faith in his own ability to pick runners. He goes to the sales and puts up big money, not necessarily for horses with a lot of pedigree, but he knows what he’s looking at and it pays off in spades. That’s why he’s so successful.”
Like any lengthy relationship, business or personal, it’s not all Ozzy and Harriet. There is pressure at any level, from dealing with lowly claimers to blueblood stakes horses. There are bound to be bumps in the road, but Harty endured, adjusted and benefited.
“Working with Bob was not always a bed of roses,” he said. “It’s like anything in life. There are ups and downs, but his personality is such that you weather them when you’re working for him, so that doesn’t make it as difficult as it could be in other situations. As an assistant, it makes life easy for you.
“It makes it enjoyable to go to work, to get up every morning early and stay late.”
Trainer Jim Cassidy is both a longtime friend and admirer of the amiable Smith, who is enjoying an unprecedented run in the homestretch of a remarkable career.
“Mike is a great person, a great person,” Cassidy reiterated. “Even when he has issues
with people, he tries to sort them out. That shows you the kind of person he is. We’ve been friends for a long time.
“He’s a great rider who always seems to have his horse in the best position to win. I think he’s a better positional rider than (Jerry) Bailey and (Chris) McCarron.”
After Saturday at Belmont Park, it’s hard to make any argument to the contrary.
NO LIVE RACING ON THURSDAY, JUNE 15 AND THURSDAY, JUNE 22
With Santa Anita’s current Spring Summer Meet set to conclude on Tuesday, July 4, the track has modified its current racing schedule for the next two weeks, as it will now run a pair of three-day weeks, beginning Friday, June 16 and Friday, June 23, in advance of a five-day closing week, which starts on Friday, June 30.
“It’s always been our goal to run more race dates, but as we’ve said, consistently, we need to present racing cards that provide the most value and are in the best interest of our customers,” said Joe Morris, The Stronach Group’s Senior Vice President of West Coast Operations. “Looking forward, we will continue to evaluate our racing schedule as we strive to present the best possible product for our fans.”
Santa Anita added an extra race Friday, Saturday and today, resulting in a total of 30 races for the week, compared to 34 that were run over the previous four-day week. Entries averaged 8.7 per race this week, compared to 6.9 horses per race last week.
With the current meet set to end on July 4, fan appreciation will be a top priority over the final three weeks, with free Club House admission added on Fridays, along with free parking.
The final two days of the season, July 3 and 4, will be Dollar Days, with one dollar beers, sodas and hot dogs.
SHEZA CHATTYKAT STRETCHES OUT IN SUMMERTIME OAKS
Sheza Chattykat will race beyond 6 ½ furlongs for the first time in next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. Richard Baltas hopes her recent works indicate she can get the distance.
“She’s been firing bullets,” said Baltas, whose two wins Saturday left him five behind leader Peter Miller, 26-21, in the trainers’ race. “I’m hoping it shows she can get it done.”
Corey Nakatani will ride Sheza Chattykat for the first time in the Summertime Oaks.
In addition to Sheza Chattykat, other probables for the race include Faypien, It Tiz Well, Majestic Quality, Selcourt and Spooky Woods.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS VARIETY OF SPECIALS ON FATHER’S DAY
Next Sunday, June 18, is Father’s Day and Santa Anita is offering three unique and fun experiences from which dads can choose. The Father’s Day Brunch in the Turf Terrace Restaurant includes a three-course plated lunch, glass of champagne or beer on arrival, Club House admission, racing program and use of the table all day. For tickets, visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/fathers-day-brunch-at-turf-terrace/.
The ‘Drams for Dads’ whiskey tasting and brunch in the historic Directors’ Room at Santa Anita includes brunch from 1 -3 p.m., a complimentary glass of champagne or beer on arrival, Woodford Reserve tasting session, commemorative tasting glass, Club House admission, racing program and a meet ‘n’ greet session with a professional handicapper. For tickets, visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/drams-for-dads/.
And, for dads who just want to show up in shorts, sit outside and enjoy a delicious barbeque, Santa Anita will offer the Father’s Day Trackside Package. Each ticket includes a BBQ plate, one craft beer or wine, Club House admission, racing program and tip sheet and seating alongside the home stretch. For tickets, visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/47675/.
FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Om is scheduled to start in the Grade III American Stakes at one mile on turf July 4. “He’s had three six furlong works,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “Two more and he’s ready to run.” . . . Peter Eurton has graded stakes-winning sprinter Kobe’s Back ticketed for the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on July 1 . . . With Rafael Bejarano up, Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Cupid trained by Bob Baffert worked four furlongs Sunday in a bullet 46.80, fastest of 98 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 49.01. There were 224 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Sunday, 31 on the training track . . . Peewee Reese and Junior Gilliam were on hand at Santa Anita Sunday morning, not the late, great members of the Brooklyn Dodgers, but horses trained by Phil D’Amato and Steve Miyadi, respectively, who worked on the training track . . . Victor Espinoza has been suspended three days (June 16, 17 and 18) for causing interference on Skelton Pass in Friday’s seventh race. Chantal Sutherland also has been banished the same three days for causing interference aboard Fall Harvest in Friday’s fourth race, resulting in the disqualification of her mount from sixth to seventh.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, June 10)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||61||10||9||10||16%||48%||$617,164|
|Hector O. Palma||37||6||7||5||16%||49%||$267,136|