Baffert: Sinister Minister "a runaway train."

Baffert: Sinister Minister "a runaway train."

Anne M. Eberhardt

Baffert: No Comparing 'Minister, War Emblem

(from Santa Anita Park notes)
Bob Baffert, who has three to get ready for the May 6 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), says there's no comparing Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Sinister Minister and his 2002 Derby winner War Emblem, another speedster.

Sinister Minister led from the start and won the Blue Grass by 12 3/4 lengths in a race that reminded some of War Emblem's runaway in the 2002 Illinois Derby (gr. II) that preceded his upset victory at Churchill Downs.

"War Emblem, you could control a little bit," Baffert said. "Sinister Minister, you can't control. He just runs off. He's just a run-off. His mouth was wide open down the backstretch (in the Blue Grass) and he went in :22, :45 and 4/5. That's not control. That's called a runaway train. At Keeneland, when he got to the quarter pole (with an eight-length lead), I knew he was gone. Those other ones were just chasing him."

Asked if the son of Old Trieste would be in front in the Derby, Baffert said, "Oh, easily in front. There's no taking him back. Victor (Espinoza) tried to rate him in the seven-eighths stakes (gr. II San Vicente) and it was disastrous."

Sinister Minister finished sixth in the San Vicente, trailing by 19 lengths.

Baffert also saddles Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Bob and John and San Felipe (gr. II) runner-up Point Determined in the Run for the Roses.

This will be the 10th Derby for Baffert, who has won three with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), and War Emblem.

Baffert believes this year's Derby is long on quality.

"This is a very competitive Derby," he said. "It's a pretty good group of horses, and a lot of them have the same style. The horse that's a pretty good horse that they don't talk about is Barbaro. He's won on turf, he's won on dirt, and he's a big, long-striding horse. I know he can get this distance."

Rafael Bejarano would ride Point Determined, Bafffert said, with Espinoza on Sinister Minister and Garrett Gomez aboard Bob and John, although that wasn't engraved in stone as of Wednesday morning. "It depends on what happens between now and then," Baffert said. "I'm going to go with my gut."