It’s Post Time by Jon White: Bob Baffert Wins Yet Another Del Mar Futurity

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s record in the Del Mar Futurity is ridiculous.

Baffert on Monday won the Grade I race for the 14th time when 8-5 Game Runner came from off the pace and ran down 7-1 pacesetter Rowayton to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths. Roadster, also conditioned by Baffert, finished third in the field of six as the 3-5 favorite.

According to my research, no other trainer has dominated any of this country’s current Grade I races to such an extent as Baffert with his 14 Del Mar Futurity wins.

These are Baffert’s Del Mar Futurity winners, with their Beyer Speed Figure listed in parenthesis:


2018 Game Winner (93)

2016 Klimt (94)

2014 American Pharoah (101)*

2012 Rolling Fog (78)*

2011 Drill (90)*

2009 Lookin At Lucky (82)*

2008 Midshipman (85)*

2002 Icecoldbeeratreds (96)

2001 Officer (99)

2000 Flame Thrower (103)

1999 Forest Camp (106)

1998 Worldly Manner (95)

1997 Souvenir Copy (91)

1996 Silver Charm (97)

*Run on a synthetic surface

The Del Mar Futurity is not the only current Grade I race that Baffert has dominated. He has won the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity (formerly the Hollywood Futurity and CashCall Futurity) a total of 10 times. Baffert also has won the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park a total of eight times.

  1. Wayne Lukas and Charlie Whittingham rank up there with Baffert in terms of dominating any of this country’s current Grade I events. Lukas has won both the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier Stakes (formerly the Oak Leaf Stakes) at Santa Anita nine times. Whittingham likewise won the Santa Anita Handicap nine times.

These are Lukas’ nine Del Mar Debutante wins:

1996 Sharp Cat

1989 Rue de Palm

1988 Lea Lucinda+

1987 Lost Kitty

1995 Arewehavingfunyet

1994 Fiesta Lady

1993 Althea

1982 Landaluce

1978 Terlingua

+Placed first through the disqualification of Approved to Fly

These are Lukas’ nine wins in the Chandelier (formerly the Oak Leaf):

1996 City Band

1995 Tipically Irish

1994 Serena’s Song

1988 One of a Klein

1987 Dream Team

1986 Sacahuista

1985 Arewehavingfunyet

1983 Althea

1982 Landaluce

Whittingham, who died in 1999, won these nine Santa Anita Handicaps:

1993 Sir Beaufort

1990 Ruhlmann

1986 Greinton

1985 Lord at War

1975 Stardust Mel

1973 Cougar II

1971 Ack Ack

1967 Pretense

1957 Corn Husker

In an amazing accomplishment outside the United States in this same vein, Bart Cummings won 12 Melbourne Cups in Australia (1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2008). Cummings, who died in 2015, became known as the “Cups King” for winning “the race that stops a nation” so many times.


Mario Gutierrez rode Game Winner for Baffert in Monday’s Del Mar Futurity. Hall of Famer Mike Smith was aboard Roadster for the white-haired conditioner. It’s a rarity for Baffert to use Gutierrez, but the jockey certainly made the most of the opportunity by giving Game Winner a flawless ride to win the race.

Baffert knows first-hand that Gutierrez certainly can keep his cool in the pressure cooker of an important race. In the 2012 Kentucky Derby, Baffert trainee Bodemeister appeared headed for victory as the 4-1 favorite before being overtaken late by Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another.

Despite breaking from post 19, I’ll Have Another (my pick) won by 1 1/2 lengths and paid $32.60 for a $2 win ticket. I’ll Have Another remains the only horse in the history of the Run for the Roses to win from post 19. Bodemeister subsequently again finished second to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness Stakes, which turned out to be the final race for both colts.

Four years later, Gutierrez won his second Kentucky Derby. He collaborated with Nyquist to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Doug O’Neill, who also conditioned I’ll Have Another. Nyquist returned $6.60 to win.

And now Gutierrez has two Del Mar Futurity victories to his credit. He also won the 2015 renewal aboard the aforementioned Nyquist.


When Game Winner registered a 5 3/4-length triumph at first asking in a six-furlong maiden special weight race Aug. 19 at Del Mar, he recorded a 77 Beyer Speed Figure. His final time was 1:11.21.

Game Winner completed his seven-furlong journey Monday in 1:23.18. His Beyer Speed Figure for the Del Mar Futurity was a significant 16-point improvement from his first race.

These are the Beyer Speed Figures for the winners of the Del Mar Futurity going back to 1991:

2018 Game Winner (93)

2017 Bolt d’Oro (85)

2016 Klimt (94)

2015 Nyquist (82)

2014 American Pharoah (101)*

2013 Tamarando (78)*

2012 Rolling Fog (78)*

2011 Drill (90)*

2010 J P’s Gusto (86)*

2009 Lookin At Lucky (82)*

2008 Midshipman (85)*

2007 Georgie Boy (88)*

2006 Horse Greeley (92)

2005 Stevie Wonderboy (86)

2004 Declan’s Moon (107)

2003 Siphonizer (82)

2002 Icecoldbeeratreds (96)

2001 Officer (99)

2000 Flame Thrower (103)

1999 Forest Camp (106)

1998 Worldly Manner (95)

1997 Souvenir Copy (91)

1996 Silver Charm (97)

1995 Future Quest (94)

1994 On Target (90)

1993 Winning Pact (93)

1992 River Special (88)

1991 Bertrando (84)

*Run on a synthetic surface


Game Winner, owned by Gary and Mary West, is a Kentucky-bred son of Candy Ride and the A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving.

Candy Ride was undefeated in six lifetime starts. He won three races in Argentina and three in this country. Probably Candy Ride’s finest performance came at Del Mar in the 2003 Pacific Classic, which he won by 3 1/4 lengths, with Medaglia d’Oro finishing second. Candy Ride’s final time of 1:59.11 in the Pacific Classic remains Del Mar’s track record for 1 1/4 miles. Candy Ride recorded a whopping 123 Beyer Speed Figure for that performance.

Baffert also trained Mastery, a talented Candy Ride colt who never lost in four career starts. Shortly after Mastery won the 2017 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita by 6 3/4 lengths, he was pulled up due to a condylar fracture in his left front ankle. The injury resulted in the insertion of three screws and ended his racing career.


After Catholic Boy won the Grade I Travers Stakes on the dirt Aug. 25 to go along with his Grade I victory in the Belmont Derby on the grass July 7, I wrote that “it takes a special racehorse to become a Grade I winner on both dirt and turf.”

In the wake of Yoshida’s two-length win in the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last Saturday, he thus now also has established himself as a special racehorse. Earlier this year, he won the Grade I Turf Classic on the turf May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Yoshida posted a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward. His career top is his 106 in the Turf Classic at the same distance last spring.

Bill Mott trains Yoshida, who was racing on dirt for the first time in the Woodward. It’s not surprising to see Yoshida do well on the dirt from a pedigree standpoint. He is by Heart Cry, whose sire, Sunday Silence, was voted 1989 Horse of the Year following Grade I wins on the dirt in the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Super Derby (yes, the Super Derby — now a Grade III — was a Grade I in 1989) and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Additionally, Yoshida’s dam, Hilda’s Passion, won Saratoga’s Grade I Ballerina by 9 1/4 lengths (100 Beyer) at seven furlong on the dirt at Saratoga in 2011 (a race you can watch on YouTube).

Yoshida’s successful dirt debut conjured up memories of the spectacular results Mott got when he decided to switch Cigar to the dirt in the fall of 1994.

Cigar began his racing career in Southern California with trainer Alex Hassinger. Cigar finished seventh when unveiled in a six-furlong maiden race on the dirt at Santa Anita on Feb. 21, 1993. In his second start, Cigar won a maiden race by 2 1/4 lengths at the same distance May 9 at Hollywood Park.

After graduating from the maiden ranks, Cigar made his next seven starts on the grass for Hassinger, winning just once, all in 1993. When Cigar returned to the racing wars in July 1994, he did so in New York for a different trainer, Mott.

Cigar’s first four starts for Mott all were on the turf. The best Cigar could do in those four races was to finish third twice. Following those grass losses by Cigar, Mott decided to put Cigar back on the dirt in a one-mile allowance affair at Aqueduct on Oct. 28. Cigar won by eight lengths. The rest, as they say, is history. That Oct. 28 victory began a 16-race winning streak by Cigar, all on the dirt.

In Cigar’s final 1994 start, he won the NYRA Mile by seven lengths at the Big A on Nov. 26. Cigar would not lose again until he finished second to Dare and Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Cigar, voted Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.


In the aftermath of Yoshida’s victory in last Saturday’s Woodward, he moves into the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.

Here is this week’s poll:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

  1. 343 Accelerate (8)
  2. 333 Justify (28)
  3. 266 Diversify (2)
  4. 230 Monomoy Girl
  5. 190 Abel Tasman
  6. 143 Catholic Boy
  7. 117 Sistercharlie
  8. 82 Mind Your Biscuits
  9. 69 Catalina Cruiser

It’s Post Time by Jon White: Bob Baffert Wins Yet Another Del Mar Futurity

It’s Post Time by Jon White |

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