03/09/2017 3:20PM

Abel Tasman in Callaghan-to-Baffert trainer switch

Emily Shields
Abel Tasman, at left in green and white silks, finishes second in the Santa Ysabel.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Abel Tasman, the Grade 1 winner whose runner-up comeback last weekend at Santa Anita reaffirmed her status as one of the country’s top 3-year-old fillies, was transferred Thursday from trainer Simon Callaghan to Bob Baffert.

The move, orchestrated by co-owner China Horse Club, was the result of an apparent mix-up in silks worn by jockey Joe Talamo last weekend when Abel Tasman finished second to Unique Bella in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes.

China Horse Club purchased a 50 percent interest in Abel Tasman from breeder and co-owner Clearsky Farms after her victory in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Starlet in December. It was intended that she carry China Horse Club colors in the Santa Ysabel. Prior to race day, Callaghan said he confirmed with the silks room that the colors were available.

However, Callaghan said, when Talamo came to the walking ring, he was wearing the Clearsky colors. Talamo was asked to return to the room and change into the China Horse Club silks, but the silks could not be located. Talamo wore the Clearsky silks.

“They moved her purely because of the silks,” Callaghan said. “It’s a pretty heartless thing to do. China Horse Club brings a lot of money into the game, but they bring no class.”

A phone call Thursday to China Horse Club representative Mick Flanagan seeking comment was disconnected during conversation. Flanagan did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The move was a major blow to Callaghan, who developed Abel Tasman from an unraced 2-year-old into one of the leading members of her division. The filly, by Quality Road, has won three of five starts and is considered a leading prospect for the Kentucky Oaks.

Baffert, who trains Kentucky Derby prospect American Anthem for an ownership group that includes China Horse Club, said he got the call Wednesday.

“I was surprised,” Baffert said. “They said they were going to move her no matter what, and they asked me.”

The filly was transferred Thursday morning to the Baffert stable. Plans for her next start are pending.


Ryan Starley 5 months ago
Class is long gone in racing. 
MontrealKen 6 months ago
Likely some  wealthy Club participants made it known to Mr. Flanagan that they were very unhappy not to see their silks and wanted to see someone pay for the insult to them.  Simon  Callaghan has every reason to be furious for such an overreaction.
realgooddogtoo 6 months ago
Happens all the time, big fish will eat the little fish.
Tina 6 months ago
Karmas' a Bi--h.This decision says it all about the owner. Silks?Really?Actually using California Chromes original silks with the BIG BOLD  "DAP"would be more appropriate.
Chas 6 months ago
Gutless...classless...petty...nice going China Horse Club....and who is Baffert to turn down a top race horse, not him...