Baffert’s horsemanship has trumped physicals, vets

15 thoughts on “Baffert’s horsemanship has trumped physicals, vets”

  1. “…it’s amazing to recall that this handsome colt failed to sell for $35,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September sale…”

    Really? Don’t you think that those who passed on him were playing percentages? And do you have any reason to believe that Baffert did not, in fact, get Lucky in more ways than one?

    How many horses has Baffert taken similar shots with that failed to make the races, or make an impression when they did?

    Furthermore, LAL has noticeably long pasterns, the type which are rarely seen on successful dirt horses in the U.S., and that characteristic was also off-putting to some prospective buyers (one of whom I know personally).

  2. Athleticism is the key to having a good racehorse. Multi-year studies of racehorses who sold with “vet issues” have shown that the vast majority did not suffer loss of earning potential.

    The essential part, as you point out here, is having good horsemen handling the stock and giving the horse what it needs in time.

    Then the horse can run up to its level of ability, and in Lookin at Lucky’s case, that was a very high level indeed.


  3. To Frank’s point, that majority may not have suffered with regards to their “earnings potential”, but plenty of buyers are bottom-line oriented, and many issues preclude the likelihood of re-sale at a big number.

  4. Candy Ride! Baffert passed on him after the vet exam; top ten sire in America…. And he didn’t buy LAL for 35K!

  5. Maybe he doesn’t have to pay attention to the vet files at the sales because he knows his on-track vets have enough stuff in the pharmacy to overcome various infirmities. I’d still call that vets trumping horsemanship, but I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

  6. Messrs McAnally and truthiness: just pointed out some of Baffert’s classic colts, not so much stallions that emerged later. Candy Ride was certainly brilliant, but he made 3 starts in the US and six lifetime, none in the classics as he was an older horse.

    Tinky, Baffert”s classic record with ham sandwiches was impressive enough if limited to Real Quiet and Silver Charm alone, no? Throw in classic runners like Cavonnier and Indian Charlie, and his reputation grew enough that money was thrown his way to buy many others that I’m sure didn’t pan out. But very tough to poo-poo his rise to prominence and his classic record. Not too many in recent memory can match it.

  7. Gina, as someone married to a criminal defense attorney, I’d rather not traffic in innuendo. Dunno what his vets give his horses, but if you have the facts, do tell.

  8. Sid –

    Baffert did not pick out Silver Charm, the McCathan brothers did. I don’t know whether or not he picked out Cavonnier and/or Indian Charlie, but my point was not to disparage Baffert’s eye for a horse, but rather to lend some context.

    There is no doubt that he has spent huge sums of money on behalf of his owners, and like any trainer who has been in that luxurious position over a period of many years (e.g. Lukas, Pletcher, Zito, etc.), he was bound to hit a few out of the park by accident.

    Most importantly, though, those anomalous home runs do not, in and of themselves, prove that he has an exceptional eye. It would be loosely akin to lauding John Ferguson for having picked out some top horses over the years.

    I’d argue that, to use just one example, it was far more impressive for Sonny Hine to have picked out Skip Away, and many other stakes winners, while shopping on a relative shoestring.

    1. Thanks for lending context, Tinky. Ferguson, BAFFERT, others all have teams looking at horses and your point about McKathans well taken. BAFFERT also has Donato L. who does groundwork. Dunno I’d compare Ferguson, not a trainer, to Baffert, who trained classic winners. You say you don’t mean to knock Baffert, but why not jus admit you are? No big deal.

  9. Baffert really is one of the best. I think the haters are more taken up with his “celebrity status.” He’s loud and crazy, but he knows how to deal with fragile American horses (Real Quiet raced as an older horse).

    Baffert is our Frankie Dettori. He’s our game’s most recognizable name, but he backs it up on the track.

    P.S. If everyone in the sport was like Baffert and Dettori, we’d all be better off.

  10. Sorry, Sid, didn’t mean to imply malfeasance. What I mean is that U.S. trainers have at their disposition a panoply of legal, authorized medication they can use on race day that compensate for many aches and pains that bad conformation can bring. I’m not saying Baffert is doing anything illegal. I’m just saying the American system allows quite a bit of latitude in the selection process, which seems to have, in my opinion, radically changed the definition of “horseman.”

  11. Jameel.,

    You can’t possibly compare trainers with jockeys,
    in racegoer’s affection.

    Frankie Dettori’s presence at a course adds thousands
    to the spectators.. trainers can’t do that.


  12. Gina,

    Although American trainers do have legal medications unavailable to European trainers, the latter are the ones who seem more forgiving of inconsequential differences in conformation and growth-related vet findings.


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