By Richard Rosenblatt
The first time Bob Baffert had a horse in the Kentucky Derby was 1996, when he sent out Cavonnier. At first, it looked as if the white-haired trainer had won in his first attempt at the Run for the Roses.
Wrong. The photo finish went against him, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ Grindstone was declared the winner. The finish was super tight and to this day, Baffert calls it the toughest beat of his career.
Since then, he has put together perhaps the most impressive Derby/Triple Crown record in racing history – a record seven Derby victories and two Triple Crown champions.
“Seven wins, it’s like, I can’t believe I won two,’’ said Baffert after Medina Spirit gave the trainer Derby win No. 7. “It’s just — I leave here, like, wow. Can you believe it? Every time we’ve won, we look at each other, Jill (his wife) and I: Can you believe we won the Kentucky Derby again? And it’s exciting.”
Coming into Saturday’s 147th Derby, Baffert was tied with Ben Jones with six Derby wins, Jones’ win came from 1938-52.
1997 – Silver Charm
1998 – Real Quiet
2002 – War Emblem
2015 – American Pharoah (Triple Crown winner)
2018 – Justify (Triple Crown winner)
2020 – Authentic
2021 – Medina Spirit
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.