12/06/2010 10:02AM

Baffert wins No. 2,000

Benoit & Associates
Bob Baffert and assistant Jimmy Barnes celebrate victory No. 2,000 for Baffert.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won the 2,000th race of his career on Sunday with the 2-year-old maiden Free Pourin in the third race at Hollywood Park.

The milestone win came with Baffert's fifth chance for the 2,000th win. He won the 1,999th race of his career with Alcindor at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28.

Baffert felt confident he had his 2,000th winner on Sunday when two of his starters - Free Pourin and Tokubetsu - turned into the stretch running first and second on Sunday.

"When they turned for home, I thought they'd get it," Baffert said. "It's a great accomplishment."

Free Pourin is owned by Mike Pegram, who has been instrumental in Baffert's success in Thoroughbred racing. For Pegram, Baffert has trained such notable runners as Real Quiet, the winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and Lookin at Lucky, the 2009 champion 2-year-old colt and the leading contender for the 2010 award as champion 3-year-old colt.

"Through the years, I've had some great clients," Baffert said.

After Free Pourin's win, Baffert was joined in a brief winner's circle ceremony with his longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes, and Baffert's wife, Jill. The victory occurred early in an afternoon in which the retired mare Zenyatta was paraded at Hollywood Park a day before being shipped to Kentucky.

"It couldn't happen on a bigger day, with all the Zenyatta focus," Baffert said.
Baffert, 57, has won three Kentucky Derbys, including the 1997 with Silver Charm and in 2002 with War Emblem. An Arizona native, Baffert made the transition from training Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds in 1991.