Given his recent struggles at Del Mar, Bob Baffert was definitely in need of some good news. The famed trainer got the boost he was looking for Aug. 8 in the form of Maimonides, his highly-regarded 2-year-old colt.
In his racing debut, Maimonides displayed the form that owner Ahmed Zayat was hoping for when he paid $4.6 million for him at the Keeneland 2006 September Yearling Sale – and then some. The son of Vindication, out of Silvery Swan, put on a spectacular performance in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint, winning by a whopping 11 1/2 lengths in a maiden special weight on the main track at Saratoga.
"This is real; racing on dirt, that's me," said an enthusiastic Baffert, who had never won a maiden race at Saratoga. "He did it so easy, so effortlessly. I live for a horse like this."
Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Maimonides broke from post seven, easily gained the lead, and drew away in convincing fashion. Bejarano never needed the stick, hand-riding the Kentucky-bred colt to one of the more impressive debut scores of the year.
Maimonides, a sibling to Grade I winner El Corredor, posted fractions of :22.04, :45.37 and :57.65 for a final time of 1:04.41. The 1-2 favorite paid $3.10, $2.60 and $2.10.
More than a few of Baffert’s horses have disappointed at Del Mar this meet, many of them owned by Zayat Stables. Zayat has openly complained about the Polytrack at Del Mar, claiming the new surface has shown an unfair bias against speed. The prominent owner removed all his horses from the California racetrack and shipped most of them to Saratoga.
"He's not leaving (New York)," Baffertt said of Zayat. "You'll never see him back at Del Mar again."
Maimonides, the sixth most expensive yearling in 2006, was scratched from an opening day race at Del Mar.