01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Bob Baffert


Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert watched his horses Bodemeister and Paynter get run down and finish second in the three legs of the Triple Crown, with Bodemeister getting caught by I’ll Have Another in the Derby and Preakness and Paynter by Union Rags in the Belmont.

Months later, he watched as his nine Breeders’ Cup runners went winless at Santa Anita.

But Eclipse voters have made Baffert a finalist for outstanding trainer, on the basis of his fine overall year in which he ranked second among trainers with more than $15 million in earnings and also in graded stakes victories, with 36.

Baffert, 60, also won 14 Grade 1 races in 2012 to top all trainers in that category. Among the highlights: Paynter winning the Haskell, the sixth win in that race for the trainer; Rolling Fog taking the Del Mar Futurity, a record 11th victory for Baffert in that race; and three Grade 1 victories at Santa Anita on Sept. 29 when Game On Dude won the Awesome Again, Executivepivilege the Chandelier, and Power Broker the FrontRunner.

He proved similarly dominant at Oaklawn Park in the spring, shipping in to win six graded stakes there, including the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister and the Grade 1 Apple Blossom with Plum Pretty.

It also was a year of recovery for Baffert, who suffered a heart attack in March while in Dubai preparing Game On Dude for the Dubai World Cup.

Hospitalized immediately, he had stents inserted to unblock two arteries, but resumed his normal work routine weeks later.