Fresh off a dominant weekend at Oaklawn Park in which he swept both divisions of the GI Arkansas Derby, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert joined the TDN Writers’ Room podcast presented by Keeneland this week for a wide-ranging video interview. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Baffert talked about plans for his undefeated trio of Charlatan (Speightstown), Nadal (Blame) and Authentic (Into Mischief), why it was important to support California backstretch workers at last week’s protest, taking over the training of Maximum Security, the reopening of Santa Anita and much more.
“They’re not going to get much of a break, they’re athletes, I have to keep them in tune,” Baffert said of his two Arkansas Derby winners. “They both came out fantastic. As a matter of fact, they’re just jumping out of their skin. They really handled everything very well. So they would have been so primed for the [Kentucky] Derby this weekend and ready for the Preakness.”
Asked about the physical characteristics of his big three, Baffert said, “They’re actually three totally different types of horses. Authentic, he’s a leaner, narrower, lighter framed horse. Tall, more like an Arrogate-type body. Whereas Charlatan, he’s like a longer version of his sire Speightstown. Just a beautiful hip on him, just incredible conformation. Nadal, he’s 16.3 [hands], weighs 1,300 pounds. He’s a brute. Just a brute of a horse.”
Baffert and his wife Jill were front and center last week at a protest representing backstretch workers for the reopening of Santa Anita for racing. The track is set to do just that next weekend.
“Oscar de la Torre, who puts that together, really works hard for the backstretch workers,” Baffert said. “We went out there, and I was advocating for the backstretch workers because they’re hard workers. They don’t want to lose their jobs. Our protocols have been great. We’ve been lucky. Nobody’s been ill. So there was just no reason for us not to be open.”
Elsewhere on the show, in the news of the week sponsored by West Point Thoroughbreds, Joe Bianca, Bill Finley, Jon Green and Alan Carasso talked about the calendar opening up with the return of Santa Anita and Churchill, the impact of casino closures on purses, and what there is to learn from the April economic indicators.