08/01/2012 2:20PM

Jerardi: Baffert, Frankel stand out as racing's two current stars


Thank the Beyer Speed Figure gods for Bob Baffert. Just when I was certain that we had already seen the fastest 3-year-olds of 2012, Baffert produced Paynter at Monmouth Park for the Haskell Invitational.

Watching the colt run away from the field Sunday, you knew it was special. The time told part of the story. So did the margins. It was no shock when the 108 Beyer was posted.

Paynter got a 100 Beyer in the Derby Trial, just his third start. He came back with a 106 in that allowance on Preakness Day. The 96 Beyer in the Belmont Stakes was more a function of the slow pace and oddball distance than a true measure of the colt’s talent.

The Haskell was dazzling in every way. Paynter blew the race open with a 23.36-second third quarter. And when Nonios made a strong run at the top of the stretch, Paynter took off again.

Is there anybody who did not think Travers when Paynter hit the wire? I figured the only way he wouldn’t win is if he didn’t run. He may not run.

Unless Paynter recovers quickly from the temperature he spiked, the colt likely won’t make the Travers, which is a shame on many levels – unless you plan on being at Parx Racing on Sept. 22. There will be two seven-figure races on the card, the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and $1 million Cotillion Stakes, a rarity if not a first in American racing on a non-Breeders’ Cup program.

And, unless he makes the Travers, Paynter likely will be the star of that day at Parx, along with his trainer, the only true star in the sport these days. We have some nice horses, many solid jockeys and several legendary trainers. But we only have one star – Bob Baffert.

His is the most recognizable face in the game. If he shows up at Parx, he will be the biggest thing there since the day Smarty Jones paraded in 2004 just before he left for his stud career in Kentucky.

Even after running second in each of the Triple Crown races, losing when losing really did not look like an option, Baffert is having one of his greatest years. He not only survived that heart attack in Dubai, he is closing on 100 wins and is winning with a ridiculous 32 percent of his starters.

And who this side of Woody Stephens does what Baffert has done in the Haskell? Woody’s five consecutive Belmont Stakes will never be duplicated or even approached. Baffert has won the last three Haskells and the last six where he has entered a horse, going back to his first with Point Given in 2001. Only Baffert has any chance to improve on that record and, even if his doctor suggests he can’t have a Max’s Hot Dog, nothing, it appears, can stop the man from winning the Haskell.

I am a sucker for streaks. Which is why I would not have missed Baffert’s sixth Haskell and could hardly wait to see Frankel’s 12th consecutive win Wednesday morning. I do not believe I have ever seen a horse run faster at the end of races than Frankel. It really does look like somebody hits the fast forward button when he runs. It is just silly.

Frankel did not disappoint, winning with total ease at Glorious Goodwood. Sadly, there is no third $1 million race at Parx for Frankel. So we will have to admire one of the great horses in history from afar. Not sure how many races Frankel has left, but I won’t be missing any of them.

By the way, what is it with all these unbeaten horses and long streaks – Frankel, Black Caviar, Zenyatta, Peppers Pride, Rapid Redux, Baffert in the Haskell and another horse to consider, the brilliant unbeaten English-bred Camelot, winner of the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby and alive for the first English Triple Crown since Nijinsky II.

Speaking of Zenyatta, there can only be one. A New Zealand-bred 5-year-old mare named Zenyatta is not making her namesake proud. She has raced six times without winning. She has earned $834. The real Zenyatta did not lose until her 20th race and won $7,304,580.

The real Bob Baffert, thankfully, is still cranking out major winners from coast to coast. I am really starting to wonder if we will ever see another Triple Crown, but I have to believe, if it ever happens, it’s going to be Baffert. Nobody has ever come closer to winning it without winning it than Baffert did in 1998 with Real Quiet. He also looked like he had it in 1997 with Silver Charm. And who knows what happens if War Emblem does not miss the Belmont break in 2002.

There is always 2013. Or 2014. Or …

Bsb Jaws More than 1 year ago
Everybody here that spouts how Euros dominate the BC grass races should look up the facts or shut up. American trained horses win more than 60% of the BC grass aces simple as that . Its recorded history,but why should you check the facts when you'd rather spout BS.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I get it now. You're one of those people who wait a few days, read all the comment in a blog, and then formulate YOUR OWN OPINION based on others factual research. Writers call that plagiarism. Most others call it being a follower.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
A.Zayat tops BB,tweeting, 'Paynter completely normal now.Doing awesome. Race took nothing out of him. Happy camper,owner happier.' now seems like 80% Paynter runs in Haskell vs Hansen,Alpha, Neck 'n Neck, Street Life, etc.. could be a good one.
WilliamTheodor3 More than 1 year ago
Good to see a trainer like Baffert doing well who's not afraid to run his horses without consulting "The Sheets" to tell him whether he should run his horse or not.
Leonard More than 1 year ago
Never fear when Baffert is near, if anyone can get a horse ready for a big race its Baffert, believe me if the horse is entered to run that is because he is ready to run and run big too, so if Paynter is in the starting gate for tha Travers go to the window $$$$$ without fear and be prepared to collect. . . . .
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
But first he must get Paynter 'well' - oh, yes and Bodie too.
D More than 1 year ago
Bottom line is Paytner is fast duh we all knew that! It's Monmouth Park one of the most speed bias tracks in the nation with one of the shortest stretches in the nation. He beat Gem a very over-rated horse, as well as Dullahan who has no business on dirt. He was beat by Union Rags and by IHA fair and square and those are the 2 best horses in the 3 year old crop. Creative Cause is better then Paytner but we will never see that cause Cause will be on the grass the rest of his career. As for Baf-fart I know you guys just love BB and TP cause you get to look at a race and don't have to actually handicap it with your 4/5, Even money chalk bets but they still loses 7 out of every 10 races they enter, so that means there is plenty of value out there to make money bet against them. Baf-fart usually gets the best 2 year olds every year and yet when is the last time he won the KY Derby?? He is so 1990's if you ask me... He and Pletcher have burned more money in the Ky Derby in the last 10 years then anyone else. Talent only gets you so far in the sport of horse racing its the way you condition and get there that matters more then anything, and that takes a horseman, not a CEO of a Stable and that is all those two men are in my eyes.
YYZGUY1 More than 1 year ago
D is for what? Dolt, Dummy, Dimwit, Dork, Daft? All of the Above. How are you able to even turn on a computer, let alone post? For your own sake, stop betting your disability check on the races.
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
You tell him...... Clueless mox
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Hey "D"....Take a closer look. Monmouth Park is not speed biased. PROVE IT. You can't. Not many gate to wire winners there. It is only people like you who say it is speed biased. In this case, the "D" stands for "dope".
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
D? Poor D! Even if you have a point, it kind of got lost in your bitter tone. Baffert won his first two Kentucky derbies with horses that cost 20 something grand (I could be wrong give or take a couple grand) and another one that cost $17K? It's no accident he's here. He EARNED the right to. And Oh, him being so 90s? I'd take THREE seconds in triple crown races in ONE year and be GLADLY called so 90s. Success man,.. it brings out all the haters. Oh well... LOL
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
A.Zayat has just tweeted, 'Miss Bode. CAN'T WAIT FOR HIS NEXT RACE.' Looks like the arrogant geniuses who said he would never race again will be proven very,very wrong. Can't wait for them to admit it.
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Bodemeister is a miler at best. You may see him in some longer big stakes races, but against older horses.........NO SHOT this year.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
assuming healthy, which current 3yo would beat him at 1 1/8 mi., not counting Paynter ?
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
How the heck does A MILER do what he did in the Kentucky derby and Preakness? P'rtytell,.. tell me! Edumacate me. Please.
Craig More than 1 year ago
Here's a point given not taken: POINT GIVEN! If not for borails rail bias at CD he would have won triple crown in record fashion! Funny Cide? LOL!
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
I can't be the only one dismayed by this article. Thank baffert for giving us Paynter and some high beyer numbers? You put Frankel, Black Caviar, and Zenyatta in the same sentence. Seriously? I'll bet all the money you won on the even money Paynter in the Haskel that baffert can't give a physical descritpion of the horse without looking at a picture. Should we also thank him for the temp spike and skipping the Travers and heading to the rich Pa races?
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
hasn't skipped the Travers yet,, is shipping Paynter to Spa this weekend, obviously trying to run him. BB tweeted,'Paynter doing much better' yesterday.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Really, he planned to skip the grade 1 Travers at Saratoga with a million dollar purse to run in a grade 2 at Parx ?
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
didn't plan it. jerardi said it.
Coniah Boda More than 1 year ago
He put them in the same sentence as Bob Baffert, not Paynter.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
that's what I meant making so distasteful of a comment by jerardi.
Coniah Boda More than 1 year ago
Give me one good reason why he shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence?
Coniah Boda More than 1 year ago
Give me one good reason why he shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as them?
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
One good reason why baffert should not be mentioned in the same sentence with Frankel, Black Caviar, and Zenyatta? You are kidding right? A million reasons, here's just one. Because he never put a bit in his mouth, strapped weight on his back, and ran a last quarter in 23 and change.
Coniah Boda More than 1 year ago
Ok so you're saying that no human involved in horse racing ever, should be mentioned in the same sentence as them? Because I would honestly take back what I said and completely agree with you.
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
yes Coniah. It's absurd to compare or put a trainer in the same sentence as great racehorses. Compare horse to horses and trainers to trainers.
Coniah Boda More than 1 year ago
That's dead on. I asked for a good reason and you gave me a great one!
Jon More than 1 year ago
what is his score in dubai? Euros ship all over the world, name one country Baffert or any other US trainer ships to prove their class?euros even ship horses accross the pond to run on a different surface, name one US horse/trainer who did that. Money is not everything, thake for example the olympics, major world ranking players are playing for peanuts(just for their country)just to bring a gold for their country. Lets accept it that Frankel has destroyed all the major players on his continent, specially when fields shrink when he runs, Where as our horses consistantly beat a field of 7 or 8 horses. Has any of our horses trounced a 5 time Grade 1 winner like Frankel had trounced? in canford cliffs .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know how much those fractions posted during the running of the Sussex can be trusted, but if they can then damn Frankel put up some crazy internals. Yes, after a first eighth in 15 seconds, and a first half in somehing like 53 seconds, Frankel should have finished well. But this well? Frankel ran the 6th and 7th eighths both in under 11 seconds for a quarter in 21.50! He ran an internal 3/8ths(from the half to the 7/8ths marker) in 32.65! And he ran the final half in 44.53! Without much urging. Would love to see how Frankel would respond, and how fast a final time he could post, if he had to face fractions like those in North America. Do you think Cecil would think about the BC Mile if they boosted the purse up to $5 mil? Without I'll Have Another or the popular Union Rags, the Breeder's Cup could really use a star. And Frankel is the #1 equine star in the world of horse racing. Ironically, I wonder if they would have given the Classic a go if the surface was still synth?
jack s More than 1 year ago
UK courses all have their idiosyncrasies (hills, in this case)....therefore fractions can only be compared against fractions at the same distance at the same racecourse.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
To call the Sussex a horse race is a joke.
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Only a moron would call Union Rags a star.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Notice I used popular to describe Union Rags. Which he is/was. His popularity most certainly made him a star. As for being a star in terms of elite talent...........I didn't write that now did I?