Trainer Bob Baffert was inducted into the Hall Of Fame at Saratoga in August, of course, it was a most-deserved honor. Baffert has done just about everything that can be accomplished in training (both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred) with the exception of pulling off a Triple Crown. Keep in mind, however, that no one else has done it either since 1978 and Baffert has come as close as you can without actually getting the trophy.
One of Baffert's more admirable recent efforts came with Midnight Lute, who won back-to-back Breeders' Cup Sprint races in 2007 at Monmouth and 2008 at Santa Anita. Midnight Lute came from absolute nowhere to win in the slop in New Jersey (embittering those of us who had loaded up on Idiot Proof that day) and repeated the feat on the synthetic surface. coming back to win after not racing for nearly a full year.
It looks like Baffert might be ready to make it three straight Sprint titles with the aptly-named Zensational. His win in the Grade 1 $300,000 Pat O'Brien was his third consecutive Grade 1 victory, including the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar. It certainly appears that the Unbridled's Song offspring will be the favorite entering the Sprint at Santa Anita.
You know what horse Zensational reminds me of: Reraise. Reraise was the winner of the 1998 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs. He came on the scene late in the game that year with an awesome win in the Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park and rolled right into the Breeders' Cup Winner's Circle. Zensational has the capability to follow that lead and win the Sprint in his home state.
Zensational has only lost twice in his career, one of those coming at one mile around two turns and the other coming to the very good Jess Jackson horse, Kensei. If he continues to plot the present course, I think Zensational will not be picking up his third loss at the Breeders' Cup.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!