Baffert Has Strong Hand as Kentucky Derby Approaches

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has a strong one-two punch for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2 with American Pharoah and Dortmund, who are currently the top two betting favorites.

Baffert is no stranger to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May. The trainer won in back to back years in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet, and then won again in 2002 with War Emblem.

American Pharoah is the current wagering favorite for the Run for the Roses at 2-1, his price dropping from 9-2 after his eight-length romp in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 11.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile, who ran second in the Kentucky Derby in 2009, started his three-year-old campaign by winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park by 6 ½ lengths. He has now won his last four starts by a combined 22 ¼ lengths.

The colt will be ridden again on Derby Day by Victor Espinoza, who won the race last year aboard California Chrome and piloted War Emblem to victory in 2002 for Baffert.

His stablemate Dortmund is currently the second choice in early Kentucky Derby betting at 9-2 and has done nothing wrong in six career starts, all victories.

The colt swept the three Road to the Derby points races in Southern California. He started his year by winning the Robert B. Lewis (G3) by a hard fought head over Firing Line, and then won the San Felipe (G2) in gate to wire fashion.

His victory in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his last outing was his most impressive, drawing away to win by 4 ¼ lengths. The colt is ridden by Martin Garcia, who is seeking his first win in the Kentucky Derby.

Dortmund’s sire is Big Brown, who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby, landing in Louisville undefeated in three career starts. Trained by Rick Dutrow, he went on to win the Preakness Stakes but his Triple Crown bid was derailed in New York at the Belmont Stakes where he was eased.

Baffert has gone a dozen years without a victory in America’s most important horse race, but he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with this year.

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