ARCADIA — Don’t feel too sorry for Bob Baffert. Sure, he no longer has 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah or 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champ Arrogate in his barn, but the Hall of Fame trainer’s roster of talented thoroughbreds is far from lacking for the upcoming year.
Collected and West Coast, second- and third-place finishers in last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar behind probable 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, will return in 2018. Both are ticketed for the second edition of the $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27. Gun Runner will be there too, but make no mistake, Collected and West Coast figure to be major players.
Hoppertunity will return for his 7-year-old campaign and is being pointed toward the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31. The son of Any Given Saturday has won seven of 28 starts with seven seconds and five thirds for earnings of more than $4.3 million. He finished third in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs over Thanksgiving weekend.
“He’s solid,” Baffert said. “He’s right there every time.”
Mor Spirit, who put on a dazzling show while winning the Met Mile at Belmont Park in June by 6 1/4 lengths, is being given some time off after a disappointing showing in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Baffert says he’ll be ready to go by the summer.
“He’s one that went south on me,” Baffert said. “He ran so hard (in the Met Mile). All these horses, I think it’s those big efforts. It sort of cooks them a little bit. The Met Mile can be really hard on a horse. We saw what it did to Frosted. He was never the same.”
Baffert will start the new year with a pair of promising 3-year-olds in McKinzie and Solomini, both of whom have flashed enough talent early in their careers to warrant Kentucky Derby hopes. Baffert has other sophomores in his barn who haven’t debuted yet that could be something special.
“I think I got some nice ones,” he said….