Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was on Cloud 9, literally and figuratively, after his unbeaten colt Dortmund galloped at Santa Anita on Saturday morning.
In his final major drill for the G1 Kentucky Derby, the Big Brown chestnut worked 1200m in company with Lady Bull clocking 1.13.60s under regular rider Martin Garcia.
“I’m really happy with how Dortmund went,” Baffert said before flying to Kentucky for next Saturday’s 141st Run for the Roses. “He just cruised around there. He’s pretty fit and didn’t need much.”
Baffert has prepped three Kentucky Derby winners and will saddle the two market leaders for this year’s classic – Dortmund and American Pharoah – but don’t expect him to play favourites.
“Dortmund is a giant. You need a ladder to pet his head,” Baffert said. “American Pharoah is no small pony either and when he walks among other horses, he knows he’s the man.”
Baffert trains Dortmund for Kaleem Shah, and American Pharoah for Ahmed Zayat. He plans to saddle both contenders in the paddock and hasn’t given much thought to which owner he will sit next to in the grandstand.
It won’t be the first time Baffert has a formidable pair entering the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. In 2001, he was represented by the favourites Point Given and Congaree but they were beaten by Monarchos.
“Believe me, when their horse is going to the gate, everybody has tunnel vision. When they turn for home, I don’t care who it is in front. My thing is to run one-two.”