01/06/2015 10:02AM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Bob Baffert

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Barbara D. Livingston

In late August, trainer Bob Baffert’s stable appeared to be in a momentary state of decline. Haskell Invitational winner Bayern had just finished last in the Aug. 23 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and a day later, longtime stable stalwart Game On Dude faded to fourth in the Pacific Classic Del Mar – a disappointing race that swayed his connections to retire him.

But Bayern would bounce back, winning the Pennsylvania Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as would Baffert, who would ultimately win nine Grade 1 races in 2014. And by the end of the year, he would have developed two of the early favorites for the 2015 Kentucky Derby in American Pharoah and Dortmund.

His nine Grade 1 stakes victories in 2014 matched the total of co-leader Todd Pletcher.

Reflecting Baffert’s roller-coaster year was Hoppertunity, who had been considered a leading Kentucky Derby contender before being scratched from the race and missing key spring and summer races for 3-year-olds due to injury. But the colt would return in the fall, with Baffert preparing him to win the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28 after just a single seven-furlong prep race Oct. 29 at Santa Anita.

Baffert, who turns 62 on Jan. 13, finished third among North American trainers behind Pletcher and Chad Brown in stable earnings in 2014, with his horses making more than $14 million. He finished second in graded stakes victories, trailing Pletcher 40-23.
Baffert won Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer from 1997-99.