Horse is more important than the post, says Baffert
'If a horse is able to run his race, he can turn out to be quite competitive'
West Coast with Jockey Mike Smith up wins the Easy Goer at Belmont Park on June 10, 2017 in Elmont
Legendary American trainer Bob Baffert, the only other man other than Emirati Saeed bin Suroor to rack up multiple wins at the Dubai World Cup, was quite happy with the draw both his horses got and was relieved that they didn't get bunched up together.
West Coast, a strong contender for the $10 million prize, drew Gate 9, the same as Baffert's Arrogate did last year, while third-time runner Mubtaahij got Stall 5. And Baffert, who is eyeing a fourth win after Silver Charm (1998), Captain Steve (2001) and Arrogate last year, said that the horse was more important than the post and the key to winning the race was a good break from the gates.
"I'm fine with it. I didn't want the one," Baffert told reporters, after the Post Position Draw at the Meydan Racecourse on Wednesday.
"I'm fine with both. Everybody wants the one, but I do not. I don't like the one-hole and have never liked the one. I've heard you have to be on the rail here as it's a speed biased rail, but I think in a race of this magnitude, when you get all of these good horses together, all that changes. We have a fast horse. From the outside, if they break a little slow you're not going to get in trouble. From the inside if you break slow, you're going to be in trouble. I just didn't want them to draw next to each other. If they'd bump into each other or something else had happened, I'd hate they be together," he added.
Baffert said that if a horse is able to run his race, he can turn out to be quite competitive.
"I think every trainer here hopes his horse runs his race and feels if he runs his race, you know you're going to be competitive. To me, the break is so important, as we saw last year (with Arrogate). I don't want to see that and go through that again. I don't think there's a really bad post when you're going a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m). The horse is more important than the post so I'm fine with it. I'm looking forward to it," said Baffert.
It has been quite the busy week for Baffert with one eye on West Coast and Mubtaahij, and the other on his horses at his home base in California. As a result of which, Baffert laughed and said that he was sleep deprived.
"Trying to sleep," he giggled and said.
"But I'm so revved up because not only am I here, you think of your two horses here and then, for the rest of the day, I'm worrying about my other horses in California. We are getting ready for the Derby so we are working horses. We worked horses on Monday and I was like tense. It is just that I have a lot on my plate right now so my mind is constantly going 100 miles an hour," Baffert added.
Baffert was also taken by surprise that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, arrived to witness the Post Position Draw. Sheikh Mohammed, who has a special bond with Baffert, having helped the American when he had a heart attack in the run up to the Dubai World Cup in 2012, were seated next to each other and had a long conversation.
"I had no idea," Baffert said about Sheikh Mohammed's visit.
"It just goes to show you his passion. This is his love, his dream, his vision, to have this. When he says he is going to do something, he does it. It is an honour to be able to talk to him. He checks in on me because I had my heart attack here. So, he's kept me going. I've known him forever since back in the day. He is a horseman and he likes talking horses," he said.