Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert

Anne M. Eberhardt

Baffert Says He'll Skip Eclipse Award Dinner

Finalist in outstanding trainer category says he doesn't expect to win this time.

Bob Baffert, one of three finalists for the 2011 Eclipse Award as the nation's top trainer, says that he's not planning to attend the annual dinner Jan. 16 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.

Baffert, who turns 59 on Jan. 13, is up against fellow Hall of Fame member Bill Mott as well as Todd Pletcher for the Eclipse this time. His last win came in 1999, capping a string of three straight years in which he took home the award.

“Actually, last year was probably one of the best years I’ve had, overall,” Baffert said Jan. 12. “I had a really good year, won all those grade I’s, but I don’t think they (voters) really look at that too much any more. Mott had a great fall (capped by a Breeders’ Cup Classic win with Drosselmeyer), but I’ll settle this year for the same year I had in 2011.

“If I could have that every year, it would be good, winning with a lot of horses, on the road, and for different owners.”

Rather than attend the awards dinner, he could instead be at home taking care of his 7-year-old son Bode. The boy was stricken with appendicitis and had his appendix removed early Jan. 10 at Huntington Memorial Hospital. Brave Bode is well on his way to recovery, Baffert said.

“He showed a lot of courage during the pain he endured before the operation,” Baffert said, “but once he was told he needed surgery, he said, ‘This is the worst day of my life.’”

On the track, Baffert's CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner Liaison  worked in company with the maiden Castaway Jan. 12.  On Santa Anita’s fast main track, Baffert caught Liaison in 1:11 4/5 for six furlongs, terming the drill, “beautiful” under Martin Garcia. Santa Anita’s clockers gave the colt a time of :59 1/5 for five furlongs. Castaway was timed in a minute flat.

Owner Arnold Zetcher was on hand for Liaison’s workout, which drew the colt closer to his 3-year-old debut in the Robert Lewis Stakes (gr. II) on Feb. 4.

A son of Indian Charlie out of Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop, Liaison gave Baffert his record sixth win in the CashCall Futurity Dec. 17 at Hollywood Park.

Impressive maiden winner Princess Arabella also worked for Baffert, breezing four furlongs in 48 seconds.