Anyone who is even a little bit familiar with horse racing has probably heard the name Bob Baffert.
The Hall of Fame trainer is considered one of the greatest in the sport's history, having been responsible for names like Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify. In nearly all of the top horse racing events, you will see Baffert's name listed in the entries and winners.
He has more than 3,000 wins, 2,000 second-places and 1,800 thirds from over 13,500 total starts. His career earnings sit above $320million, aided significantly by winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit.
Baffert was born and grew up on a ranch in Nogales, Arizona, where his family raised livestock. He had an affinity with horses early on, with his father purchasing Quarter Horses to practice racing on a dirt track when Baffert was 10 years old.
He graduated from the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program and Baffert became one of the top trainers in Quarter Horse racing, being responsible for four champions. He transitioned to Thoroughbred racing in the late 1980s.
Triple Crown campaigns
Baffert has had an extensive and successful career, but his most monumental moments have come within the last 10 years. Perhaps his most significant accomplishment came in 2015 when he became the first trainer in 37 years to condition a Triple Crown winner.
His American Pharoah scored that year's Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
Justify provided Baffert with his fifth Derby win after overcoming the slop, and the runner became the first three-year-old to take the Derby without running as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882.
Justify encountered another sloppy track two weeks later in the Preakness, where he battled to overcome champion Good Magic. The highly anticipated final leg of the Triple Crown ran three weeks later and Justify scored the Belmont to become the first-ever Triple Crown champion who didn't race at age two.
The trainer's career had been leading up to those successes in 2015 and 2018. Back in 2012, he had finished second in the three Triple Crown races with Bodemeister (Kentucky Derby and Preakness) and Paynter (Belmont Stakes).
In 2014, Baffert was responsible for training Bayern, who went on to take the Breeders' Cup Classic and become a Horse of the Year finalist.
Just moments before the 146th edition of the Kentucky Derby, Thousand Words was scratched following an incident in the paddock. This meant Baffert only had Authentic, who was breaking from the outside post.
Authentic took the lead heading into the far turn under jockey John Velazquez and he was able to fend off Tiz the Law, one of the top names of 2020 with wins in the Belmont Stakes and Runhappy Travers Stakes already under his belt.
With Authentic's victory, Baffert got his sixth Derby win, tying with trainer Ben Jones for the most ever Derby victories.
He surpassed this record in 2021, by guiding 12/1 shot Medina Spirit, giving him his seventh Derby win. Medina Spirit then went on to finish third in the 2021 Preakness Stakes, being denied a shot at the Triple Crown by Rombauer and Midnight Bourbon.
However, a week after the Derby, Medina Spirit tested positive for illegal levels of the anti-inflammatory betamethasone and this was later confirmed by a second sample. It is uncertain as to whether the horse will be stripped of his Kentucky Derby title. Meanwhile, Baffert has been banned from entering horses at Churchill Downs for two years in addition to having an indefinite suspension imposed upon him regarding entering horses at New York racetracks.
Other big series
This gave Baffert 14 career Breeders' Cup wins, making him second only to D. Wayne Lukas with 20.
The Baffert-trained Arrogate kept impressing in 2017 when he scored the $12million Pegasus World Cup.
That campaign also saw him win the $10million Dubai World Cup and become the highest-earning North American Thoroughbred of all time, bringing in over $17million in earnings. In that same year, Baffert took the Kentucky Oaks with Abel Tasman.
In the 2020 edition of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Baffert scored the Filly and Mare Sprint with Gamine. He also took his fourth Longines Classic with Authentic, the Kentucky Derby winner.
With that being his most recent victory, Baffert's Breeders' Cup tally stands at 17, with a good possibility of him breaking Lukas' record before long.