09/22/2012 2:00PM

Juddmonte to race small stable in California; Baffert to train

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms will return to California racing in 2013 after joining with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to buy a small group of yearlings at Keeneland earlier this month.

Baffert, working with Juddmonte officials, selected three yearlings at Keeneland that will be based in California next year.

Baffert’s Juddmonte horses will represent the first regular presence for Juddmonte since Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott had a small team of horses at Santa Anita for Juddmonte in early 2010.

Garrett O’Rourke, Juddmonte’s farm manager in Lexington, Ky., said more horses could be sent to Baffert in California depending on how yearlings are allotted to the farm’s various trainers in the United States and Europe. Juddmonte also has horses on the East Coast with Bill Mott.

A decision on who trains the yearlings will be made in November in conjunction with Abdullah, O’Rourke said.

“We won’t go in with a big stable,” O’Rourke said. “Initially, we’ll see how it goes.”

O’Rourke said that Baffert helped to select the yearlings that he will train. The group includes an Elusive Quality colt purchased for $525,000, a Curlin colt bought for $300,000, and a Tapit filly bought for $280,000.

The Elusive Quality colt is out of Xtra Heat, the 25-time stakes winner.

Juddmonte is best known in the United States for its long association with the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who died in 2009.

With Frankel, Juddmonte won Grade 1 races with Aptitude, Beat Hollow, Cacique, Chester House, Exbourne, Expelled, First Defense, Flute, Heat Haze, Marquetry, Midships, Mizzen Mast, Quest for Fame, Raintrap, Sightseek, Skimming and Tinners Way.

This year in Europe, Juddmonte races the unbeaten 4-year-old Frankel, considered one of history’s finest turf milers.