Homeracing

Bob Baffert’s Top 3-Year-Olds Ranked

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D.S. Williamson

March 15th, 2019

Because of the tragedy that's befallen Santa Anita, Bob Baffert has had to call an audible. Both his top Derby contenders, Game Winner and Improbable, will run in the two division of the March 16 Rebel Stakes. Unless Santa Anita right's its ailing ship, both could end up with their final preps in the Arkansas Derby.

Bob likes to follow the path that's led to past success. While he adores the Santa Anita Derby, American Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby on his way to Triple Crown glory. Baffert's got no problem prepping all his 3-year-old contenders in Arkansas.

This Top 5 comes out before Bob runs his two sophomore stars in the Rebel Stakes 1 and Rebel Stakes 2 on march 16. No worries because Game Winner's the favorite in one of the Rebel Stakes Divisions while Improbable is the favorite in the other.

Game Winner Leads Baffert Rankings

1. Game Winner

The champ finally gets to the track. Bob had scheduled to run him in the San Felipe, but Santa Anita's dirt track issues caused the cancellation of that race. Even if they reschedule, the window's closed. So, the son of Candy Ride will battle it out with Gunmetal Gray and Captain Von Trapp in the Rebel Stakes.

Unless Game Winner hasn't improved at all from his BC Juvenile win, he should dominate his foes on March 16 and signal that, yes, he is the top-rated Kentucky Derby contender on the Run for Roses trail.

2. Improbable

Jerry Hollendorfer has entered Galilean into the other Rebel Stakes Division. The California Derby winner is a 2/1 second choice to chalk Improbable. Although Galilean appears to have some talent, he's a major underlay at 2/1.

Improbable hasn't been seen since putting a beat down on fellow Baffert trainee Mucho Gusto in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. The undefeated City Zip sired colt has all the makings of Bob's next Triple Crown winner. If he shows up and dominates in the Rebel Stakes, it will be hard to keep him from the top spot on this list.

3. Mucho Gusto

Baffert's pointing Mucho Gusto to the Grade 3 Sunland Derby for his next prep. No horse scheduled to run in that prep is likely to challenge the Mucho Macho Man three-year-old. Right now, he's only got 14 points. If he wins the Sunland Derby, he grabs 50 points. It's hard to see 64 points not being enough to put him the field on the First Saturday in May.

It's obvious Bob wants to nail down a starting position for Mucho Gusto in the Kentucky Derby. That's a shrewd move that could pay off because while Game Winner and Improbable will fight it out against the best in the top preps, Mucho Gusto could relax after his Sunland Derby victory and wait for the Run for the Roses.

4. Roadster

Roadster was the talk of the town as a two-year-old, even going off favored over Game Winner in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, but after finishing third, Baffert decided to put him on the shelf. He's since come back with a big win in an allowance at Santa Anita. Bob's pointing Roadster towards the Santa Anita Derby, the same race Jerry Hollendorfer's pointing Instagrand to after that one finished third in the Gotham at Aqueduct.

Roadster could most definitely beat Instagrand. Right now, he's an under the radar Bob Baffert contender. But, because he's so talented, we'd most definitely have to take him seriously should he win the Santa Anita Derby.

5. Coliseum

Although I list him here, Coliseum is off the Derby Trail. Baffert said that he knows he's good, but that he doesn't like to train. The horse has some things to work out, meaning Bob will give him time and then unleash him in late July, with an eye on the Travers Stakes.

Baffert used that process to make Arrogate the best horse in the world his three-year-old season. He also used the same process to make West Coast the best three-year-old during his sophomore year. Let's not give up on Coliseum just yet even though he's likely to not run in any of the three Triple Crown races.

 
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