Bob Baffert is a six-time winner at the Preakness Stakes and will go for his seventh this year with a bevy of horses in the Triple Crown mix. One of his top choices remains the unheralded Cupid, whom we haven’t seen that much in competition. Baffert is pointing Cupid down the same derby trail that American Pharoah did during last season.
American Pharoah won both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby prior to becoming one of the greatest thoroughbreds in the history of the sport, and undoubtedly the best in the modern era. Cupid has already taken the Rebel Stakes, beating Whitmore and Creator, and will be the top consideration at one of the last major races prior to the Kentucky Derby. A field of 12-13 horses is probable for this weekend’s event.
Bob Baffert will also run Contender in the grade-three Lexington Stakes this weekend as well, and had him training out along with Cupid at Santa Anita. It was a strange moment for the trainer, who took a moment to reflect upon his post-Pharoah time.
“To see him [retire] was sad because it’s like watching your child leave. You think, ‘Is he going to be OK? Is he sleeping at night?'” The legendary Bob Baffert continued to recall the post partum effect after retiring American Pharoah. “We went through about 60 days where we were depressed about it, not being able to see him at the barn, but at the same time we have great memories. We got to be a part of it and my kids will be able to tell their kids about it when I’m gone. That [year] is part of their lives. It will always be remembered. It was tough when he left, but we’re always looking at those young 2-year-olds coming up. We always have our minds thinking about the future.”
Collected’s immediate future depends on how he runs at Lexington and while he won’t be in the running for the Kentucky Derby, Bob Baffert wouldn’t rule out a run in the second leg of the Triple Crown. “If he were to run well, maybe we’d consider the Preakness for him, but we’re being realistic where distance is concerned for him,” he said.
Cupid remains one of Bob Baffert’s most intriguing entries in to the Triple Crown season. “He’s shown he’s different than a sprinter. He’s come around quickly since January. He’s really matured a lot. We knew he was a nice horse but [in the Rebel] he showed us something different. He can be a little bit of a handful like most Tapits, they can get a little bit excited, so we put a lot of work into him just to keep him relaxed and focused.”
Mor Spirit is still in contention, but is coming off a pair of frustrating runs at Santa Anita where he was bested by Exaggerator and Danzing Candy in subsequent derby prep races. Of the three, Cupid’s mystique continues to grow the most and bettors will be excited to see what he’s capable of at this weekend’s Arkansas Derby.
Even with some curious pathways leading up to the Triple Crown, one can never doubt the decisions of an accomplished trainer like Bob Baffert. That’s why Cupid and Mor Spirit will continue to generate heavy interest in a thick Kentucky Derby field.