01/05/2017 2:10PM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Bob Baffert


Trainer Bob Baffert refers to jockey Mike Smith as “Big Money Mike,” a reference to his achievements in lucrative races such as the Breeders’ Cup races. Of course, Baffert, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame, is himself worthy of the “Big Money” moniker.

In 2015, he trained the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in American Pharoah, who capped his history-making year by winning the $5 million Breeder’s Cup Classic. And in 2016, he again took home the biggest prize in the Breeder’s Cup when Arrogate won the Classic under Smith, upsetting California Chrome.

Baffert and Smith added another Breeder’s Cup victory in 2016 when Drefong won the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Baffert won 11 Grade 1 races on the year, second among trainers to Chad Brown’s 12, and placed fourth by stable earnings in North American races with purses of nearly $16 million.

Running a smaller stable than Brown and Pletcher, Baffert could not match them in earnings or graded races won, but he made the most of the elite horses he trained. Among trainers with 25 or more starts in North America in 2016, Baffert had the highest average earnings per start, $38,506.

Other Grade 1 winners for him in 2016 included Klimt in the Del Mar Futurity; Noted and Quoted in the Chandelier; Lord Nelson in the Triple Bend, Bing Crosby, and Santa Anita Sprint Championship; Hoppertunity in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; and Mastery in the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity.

Baffert, who turned 64 on Jan. 13, won three consecutive Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer from 1997-99. He added a fourth Eclipse in 2015.