Bob Baffert will detour to Dubai next week before getting back to the core business of winning the Kentucky Derby for a fourth time on the first Saturday in May.
Baffert has captured the Dubai World Cup with Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001) and this year he travels to the Gulf with Game on Dude (Awesome Again) who is a last-start winner of the G2 San Antonio Stakes.
Game on Dude is on the third line of World Cup betting at $7 behind NZ bred champion So You Think ($4) and Japanese star Smart Falcon ($6). Stablemate The Factor (War Front) is also along for the ride to take on Rocket Man in the G1 Golden Shaheen.
Baffert, 60, hasn’t won a Kentucky Derby for a decade. He went back-to-back with Silver Charm (1997) and Real Quiet (1998) before claiming a third with War Emblem (2002).
The Hall Of Fame trainer will continue rolling out his Kentucky Derby candidates with Castaway (Street Sense) and Stirred Up (Lemon Drop Kid) in the G3 Sunland Derby this weekend.
A week after the World Cup on April 7, he will attack on three fronts with Liaison (Indian Charlie) in the G1 Wood Memorial, Paynter (Awesome Again) in the G3 Illinois Derby and Bodemeister (Empire Maker) in the G1 Santa Anita Derby.
Baffert’s very promising colt Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) was also being set for the Santa Anita Derby before injuring a hind leg earlier this month. Baffert won the 2011 Santa Anita Derby with Midnight Interlude but the War Chant colt didn’t stretch out to 2000m under the Twin Spires.
The following Saturday Baffert sends out Secret Circle (Eddington) in the G1 Arkansas Derby. He completed a hat-trick of G2 Rebel Stakes wins for the stable last weekend following Lookin At Lucky and The Factor.
Baffert considers Secret Circle is his front-runner for the Run for the Roses. “We found a new dimension to him in the Rebel Stakes. At the half-mile pole, it looked like he was going nowhere but he starting running and got the job done.
“Secret Circle reminds me of Silver Charm,” Baffert explained. “He will win, but he’s not going to show up. I’m really impressed with him.”
Baffert could also play a wildcard on April 14 with Midnight Crooner (War Chant) in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He is a younger brother of Midnight Interlude and was a dominant seven length winner at Golden Gate Fields last month.
Midnight Crooner has been used a galloping companion for Game on Dude and they worked 1400m in 1.25s at Santa Anita last week. He has been nominated for the LR Pasadena Stakes (1600m) at Santa Anita this Friday.
War Chant (Danzig) shuttles from Three Chimneys Farm to Yarradale Stud in WA where he covered over 100 mares in his first southern book last year.
Midnight Interlude and Midnight Crooner are homebreds for Arnold and Ellen Zetcher. Their NZ bred dam Midnight Kiss (Groom Dancer) won races at Arawa Park and Tauranga and also finished third in the 2004 New Zealand Oaks before shipping to the United States.
The Zetchers have a yearling filly by War Chant from Midnight Kiss and the mare’s latest foal is a yearling filly by Bernstein.