Bob Baffert: Where is the Racehorse Trainer Now?

As a documentary episode living up to its title in every way conceivable, FX’s ‘The New York Times Presents: Broken Horses’ can only be described as equally gripping and intriguing. That’s because it delves deep into the sport of horse racing to shine a light upon not just its history as well as elaborate pageantry but also its dark side of doping, gambling, and utter neglect. It thus comes as no surprise there’s significant mention of trainer Robert “Bob” Baffert throughout this original, especially considering the controversies around him over the past few years.

Bob Baffert is a Horse Racing Professional Through and Through

Although born into a proud ranching family in Nogales, Arizona, on January 13, 1953, Bob never really dabbled or took an interest in raising cattle plus chickens like the rest of his loved ones. Instead, ever since his father purchased some Quarter Horses when he was merely ten years old, his passion has been these varied hoofed mammals and these varied hoofed mammals alone. He actually practiced racing them on a dirt track from the initial days itself, only to then move on to serve as a jockey in informal rural races before ultimately rising to recognized national tracks.

That’s where Bob won his first race at the tender age of 17 in 1970, soon driving him to land a spot in the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program for a Bachelor of Science degree. However, everything turned upside down by the time he was 20 because this married family man had grown too big to continue being a professional jockey, which propelled him towards training. He was initially hired by other trainers to run their stables, but he gradually built an independent reputation for himself and then had his first winner at the Rillito Park Course on January 28, 1979.

It was in the ensuing years, in the 1980s, that Bob relocated to California alongside his family for good to expand his horizons, eventually resulting in him working at the Los Alamitos Race Course. Though little did he know this would inadvertently make him decide to switch to Thoroughbreds full-time in 1991, just for him to get his big break by conquering the Breeder’s Cup the following year itself. And since then, in over three decades, this trainer has never seriously faltered — he has actually won more than 3000 races, including a total of 18 Breeders’ Cups, 17 American Classics, 4 Dubai World Cups, as well as 2 Pegasus World Cups, amongst much, much more.

Therefore, of course, Bob is often considered the face of horse racing, especially since his graded stakes wins include 16 in the Del Mar Futurity, 9 in Haskell Invitational Handicap, 9 in the Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes, 9 in the Santa Anita Derby, 3 in Kentucky Oaks, plus more. So yes, like everyone else, this 6-time Kentucky Derby champion is understandably expected to follow all the regulations while also genuinely caring for his horses during both on and off-season. But alas, throughout his storied career, over 30 of his animals have failed drug tests, resulting in him paying $20,000+ in fines despite his earnings amounting to more than approx. $320 million.

Bob Baffert is Currently Suspended From Derby Racing

Unfortunately, it’s imperative to note that at least 75 of Bob’s horses have died from a heart attack while in his stables since 2000, and more have had to have been euthanized when injured during a race. A large reason behind this is possibly significant amounts of drug intake with not enough care, which is why Kentucky Derby-hosting Churchill Downs suspended him in 2021. He was then banned from entering one of his horses by the New York Racing Association (NYRA), which he appealed and won, only to later be charged by the organization for conduct detrimental to the best interests of racing.

Then, in February 2022, Bob was suspended for 90 days and fined $7,500 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, followed by a 15-day ban in Arkansas a few months later. The truth is much controversy around him has been diminished since owing to the fact he has continued racing and winning in other competitions, including the 2023 Preakness Stakes. Nevertheless, Churchill Downs still refuses to let him participate in any of its events, meaning Bob hasn’t been a part of the renowned Kentucky Derby since 2021.

However, from what we can tell, this isn’t bothering the trainer too much, especially as he has been able to continue to train horses and have them race other tracks, resulting in him winning even more. As for his current personal standing, it appears as if he’s still based in California, where he resides with his second wife, former television reporter Jill, and is often surrounded by his five children. In other words, the 71-year-old is proud to continue with his work, no matter what.

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