Whatever happens, it seems impossible to keep Bob Baffert out of the spotlight. The Hall of Fame coach won the second richest race in the world on Saturday when Country Grammer drove down the stretch to win the $ 12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE. It was Baffert’s fourth win in the race.
Most had conceded the 1¼-mile race to Life Is Good, which was dominant by winning both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Pegasus World Cup in its last two starts. But the distance may have been too much for the colt as he relinquished the lead in the stretch and finished fourth. Hot Rod Charlie, trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Flavien Prat, finished second by 1¾ in length. The Japanese horse Chuwa Wizard was third. Midnight Bourbon was fifth in the 10 horsepower race with all four US horses finishing in the top five.
The 5-year Country Grammer is owned by Amr Zedan and WinStar Farm. Zedan was also the owner of the disqualified Kentucky Derby-winning Medina Spirit after the foal tested positive for an illegal drug on race day. Medina Spirit died of what was thought to be a heart attack in December as she prepared to resume her racing career.
Baffert is mired in lawsuits hoping to restore Medina Spirit’s victory and her ability to run anywhere in the country. He is currently banned from Churchill Downs for two years and is facing a 90-day suspension in all jurisdictions. Baffert said Thursday that he had transferred four of his promising potential Kentucky Derby clients to coaches Tim Yakteen and Rodolphe Brisset so they could earn qualifying points at the Derby.
Without talking specifically about the issues, Zedan offered a lively defense and tribute to Baffert in a televised interview in Dubai.
“That is [the talent of] Bob Baffert right there, ”Zedan said, pointing to his horse. “This is what Bob Baffert is capable of. … I’m so overwhelmed. What an incredible feeling. … It was a difficult year but now we are back. [Baffert is] the best coach in the world. The goat. … I am so happy and happy for my friend Bob “.
Country Grammer didn’t have an easy path: He was originally trained by Chad Brown but was moved into a scatter sale when his owner, Paul Pompa, passed away. The colt sold for $ 450,000 at 2 years, but WinStar got it for $ 110,000 last year. He was transferred to Baffert’s barn, where he ran second in the Californian Stakes before winning the Hollywood Gold Cup.
He was sent to New York, where he suffered an ankle injury, and spent eight months between races before finishing a solid second February 28 in the $ 20 million Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world. .
“Who would use a $ 20 million race to prepare for a $ 12 million race?” Baffert said with a laugh Saturday from Santa Anita. “It was a tough race with Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie. A really strong field. The horse keeps getting better and better. It’s always exciting to win the Dubai World Cup, but I’d still like to get one of those Saudi Cups. “
Prat drove both Country Grammer and Hot Rod Charlie and chose to go with Hot Rod Charlie. Famous Italian cyclist Frankie Dettori took the mount on Country Grammer, the first time the jockey rode for Baffert.
“Frankie Dettori was fantastic,” said Baffert. “I told him that he had to race for me at least once before my retirement. He is one of the greatest of all time. What a great team. He was magical. “
There is no betting in Dubai, but Country Grammer paid $ 20.10 to win in international betting pools.