The Triple Crown series will be unlike anything that we have seen in recent years in 2022, as there will be no horses trained by Bob Baffert involved at either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes.
The decision regarding the latter was made official in early April, as the Maryland Racing Commission announced that trainers would be unable to enter horses following violations over the previous 12 months.
Baffert had already previously been banned from making entries to the Kentucky Derby, a race that he has won a joint-record six times. So, does this mean that when we meet the 2022 Preakness Stakes contenders none of his horses will figure up in the race?
Baffert Transfers Horses
There was a growing feeling earlier in the year that Baffert-trained horses were likely to be unable to earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, which meant that a number of his star three-year-olds were transferred. The latest news now means that it is likely that these same horses won’t be transferred back to the Hall of Fame trainer for the Preakness Stakes, and will instead be staying put in their current yards.
The pick of the three that moved earlier in the year before the final prep races was Messier. However, the graded stakes winner was later beaten in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, which has seen confidence in his Triple Crown abilities weaken. But, he could yet be an outstanding chance in the opening Triple Crown race, and victory at Churchill Downs will almost certainly mean that he will be pointed towards the Preakness.
However, McLaren Vale was another that was transferred to the Tim Yakteen yard, but looks set to miss out on both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The three-year-old has failed to set the world on fire with his performances on track to this point, and finished third in the G3 San Vicente, before returning with a third in an allowance optional claimer.
Which Former Baffert-Trained Horses Will Head To Pimlico?
The former Baffert horses that will head to Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes will almost certainly depend on their runs in the Kentucky Derby. It looks likely that only a victory in the opening Triple Crown race for Messier will see him pointed towards the second leg. One that looks likely to line-up at Pimlico is Blackadder. The three-year-old is now trained by Rodolphe Brisset, but he didn’t pick up the required points to enter the Derby.
The three-year-old showed some strong form at the start of 2022, as he won the El Camino Real Derby over 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather. However, his Derby dreams came to an end at the beginning of April, as he couldn’t finish in the top positions of the G1 Blue Grass Stakes; eventually finishing ninth at Keeneland. But, Brisset remains confident that the three-year-old could produce a big run at Pimlico.
Baffert’s Connection To Taiba
One horse that was transferred before the announced four that went slightly under the radar was Taiba. The three-year-old is also trained by Yakteen, but moved away from the Baffert yard after clocking a speed figure of over 100 on his debut on track earlier this year.
Taiba would then go on to dominate the field on his debut for the Yakteen yard in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, holding off new stablemate Messier and ante-post favorite Forbidden Kingdom.
It’s almost as though Baffert knew that Taiba was potentially the star three-year-old in his stable, and opted to move his immediately after he caught the eye on debut. He will now be looking to join elite company and win the Triple Crown without having raced as a two-year-old, which is a feat only Justify managed in 2018.