08/02/2007 11:00PM

Baffert's pleasure trip turns to business


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Bob Baffert was hoping to spend a couple of leisurely days in Saratoga. He was going to attend Monday's Hall of Fame ceremonies at which his first Kentucky Derby winner, Silver Charm, is being inducted. Then he would attend the sales hoping to find another one.

But Baffert's plans changed somewhat when his main client, Ahmed Zayat, abruptly decided to ship all his horses out of Del Mar, complaining about the Polytrack. While Baffert is still coming to Saratoga, he will be working more than he planned.

Baffert has shipped five horses to Saratoga and plans to send more as soon as he can find some additional stalls. Baffert himself will arrive here Monday afternoon - thus missing the Hall of Fame ceremony - and will stay for an extra day or two longer than he planned.

"I've got to find some more stalls," Baffert said Friday from Del Mar. "They've been very good to us hustling around trying to find some spots. I'll be there for a few days. I left it open. I'm day-to-day, horse-to-horse."

One of the reasons Baffert plans to stay is because he hopes to run Maimonides, a 2-year-old son of Vindication that Zayat purchased for $4.6 million at the 2006 Keeneland yearling sales. He could run here as early as Wednesday.

"I think he's a very fast horse," Baffert said. "I think he's extremely talented."

Baffert also shipped the 2-year-old filly More Happy, a debut winner on July 21 at Del Mar, who is being pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack here on Aug. 15. Baffert shipped in two other 2-year-olds as well as the 3-year-old sprinter E Z Warrior, who is being pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 25. Among the other horses Baffert could ship here is Tough Tiz's Sis, the winner of the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, who could contest the Alabama on Aug. 18.

"I was going to bring horses up there all the time," Baffert said. "I wasn't going to come as soon as this. I was going to give Maimonides a race here and then ship out."

Nader, ex-NYRA exec, makes a visit

Bill Nader, the former senior vice president and chief operating officer for the New York Racing Association who left to take a job in Hong Kong, has returned home for a brief vacation.

Nader arrived in Saratoga on Wednesday night and visited the racetrack on Friday. He was besieged by former workers and well-wishers.

"It's great to be back," Nader said before Friday's first race. "Part of it is that it's sort of our family vacation place. One of the things my son Evan wanted to negotiate when he agreed to come live in Hong Kong was to come back to Saratoga every summer."

Nader said he also hopes to talk some horsemen into bringing horses over to Hong Kong for that country's biggest day of racing, on Dec. 9. The program has four major turf stakes - including the Hong Kong Cup - ranging in distance from six furlongs to 1 1/2 miles with purses totaling $9 million.

"Plus, we pay for all the participants' and the horses' travel," Nader said.

Nader said his new job has afforded him the opportunity to visit some of the world's most prestigious racing venues, including Royal Ascot.

"One thing I can tell you is Belmont needs a lot of money," Nader said. "Belmont needs a funding mechanism to sustain it as a world-class facility for years to come. Ascot put in $400 million U.S., and Hong Kong is putting in $500 million U.S., and our facilities are in good shape."

Grade 1 winner Bushfire retired

Trainer Eddie Kenneally brought about a dozen horses to Saratoga for the summer. One that he didn't bring was Bushfire, a multiple Grade 1-winning filly, who has been retired.

Kenneally said owner Ron Rashinski made the decision to retire Bushfire after her fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park June 16. Bushfire finished sixth in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in her other start this year.

As a 3-year-old last year, Bushfire won three Grade 1 stakes, including the Ashland, Acorn, and Mother Goose, as well as the Florida Oaks. For her career, Bushfire won 6 of 13 starts and banked $802,507.

"She wasn't as interested in racing as she was last year," Kenneally said. "We decided to be good to her and turn her out."

Rashinski said Bushfire would likely be sold at the Keeneland November horses-of-all-ages sale.

Big Apple Daddy's future uncertain

Trainer Bruce Levine had hoped to run Big Apple Daddy in Thursday's John Morrissey Stakes, but an injury to the horse's right foreleg has put his future in jeopardy.

Levine said that Big Apple Daddy suffered a tear to the suspensory ligament in his right leg and has been sent to the farm. Big Apple Daddy, a 5-year-old son of Precise End, has a record of 7-8-4 from 22 starts. He has earned $457,526 for owner Ervin Rodriguez, including a victory in the Don Levine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

"We'll give him some time off, bring him back, and try to get him ready for the spring," Levine said. "If he doesn't make it, [Rodriguez] will probably make a little stallion out of him."

Levine said that Chestoria, a talented filly who finished second in a New York-bred allowance race here on Monday, would be pointed to the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup at Belmont on Sept. 8. Monday's race was Chestoria's first since she won the Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont last October.

"It's not my style to do that, but it's getting near the end of the year and I've got to try and get some black type with her," Levine said. "I think she's a good enough filly to do it."

Past the Point seeks stakes win

Sunday's $80,000 Lemon Drop Kid Stakes affords a bevy of 3-year-olds who are not yet ready for prime time a chance to earn some stakes glory. While several members of the field are dropping from graded competition, Past the Point is making his stakes debut after winning his last two starts.

Past the Point, a son of Indian Charlie, comes off a front-running score in a first-level allowance race at Arlington. Prior to that, he won a seven-furlong maiden race at Churchill. Sunday's race is at 1 1/8 miles.

"He's done very little wrong," said Eoin Harty, who trains Past the Point for Darley Stable. "He's not your typical Indian Charlie; he doesn't have blazing speed. It seems like the further he goes, the better he'll be. He acts like a horse that'll run a mile and a half."

Past the Point will be coupled with Mandurah, a horse who Harty said is better when he gets things his own way, something that doesn't appear likely in this spot.

Winstrella, True Competitor, and Loose Leaf are also contenders in this field.

Stewards: No refund necessary

When the stewards posted the inquiry sign following the completion of the fifth race on Friday, it was widely assumed they would conclude that a refund was necessary to those who wagered on Tobruk, a 22-1 longshot.

Video replays indicated the horse was in the hands of the assistant starter when the doors opened. A similar situation arose Wednesday when the stewards ruled that Rumspringa, the even-money favorite in the first race, was in the hands of the starter, and thus refunds were given.

But Friday, after the stewards spoke with the gate crew and John Velazquez, the jockey of Tobruk, they decided against a refund.

"We talked to the assistant starter, we talked to the jock, and they said it was just a messed-up start," state steward Carmine Donofrio said. "The rider said he turned his head as the doors opened."

The start cost Tobruk several lengths in a race in which he was beaten 6 3/4 lengths.