Mastery Unleashed: Bob Baffert Ready for the 2017 Triple Crown

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D.S. Williamson

December 13th, 2016

Every year, trainer Bob Baffert has a top three-year-old. Most of the time, Baffert has 2 or 3 top three-year-olds. In 2014, Bob Baffert trained three-year-old Bayern to a front running score in the Breeders Cup Classic. In 2015, Baffert became the first trainer to win the Triple Crown in 38 years with the incredible American Pharoah. He also trained the terrific Dortmund in 2015. This year, in 2016, Baffert had the absolute best three-year-old on the planet in Travers Stakes winner Arrogate. Although Arrogate didn't race in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont, he did beat California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Bob Baffert has won an incredible 12 Triple Crown races:  4 Kentucky Derbies, 6 Preakness Stakes and 2 Belmont Stakes. 2017 should be no exception when it comes to the Triple Crown and Bob Baffert. Baffert has no less than 2 contenders for this May's Run for the Roses. I have my doubts about the third contender.

Mastery - Although some horse racing analysts aren't ready to jump on Mastery's bandwagon, I'm not one of those analysts. To me, his win in the Cash Call Futurity at Los Alamitos over the weekend was a thing of beauty. It was Mastery's fist time around two-turns. Plus, navigating the stretch at Los Alamitos is not easy for any horse to do. Mastery accelerated in the stretch once jockey Mike Smith gave him the cue to go. The win was incredibly professional for a horse in only his third lifetime start. The only reason to believe that Mastery wasn't impressive is because he didn't beat a solid field.

That doesn't bother me. Zenyatta beat up weak fields during her entire career before putting a beat down on the best in the world in the Breeders Cup Classic. Arrogate beat a weak group of three-year-olds in the Travers Stakes. He still managed to take down California Chrome in the Classic. One thing every horseplayer has to love about Mastery is the presence of A.P. Indy and Storm Cat on the bottom. I think he's the real deal.

Show Me Da Lute - Show Me Da Lute finished fifth in the Cash Call Futurity at Los Al this past weekend. One thing to remember is that Show Me Da Lute ran for only the second time in the Futurity. In that respect, it wasn't too bad of a run by the son of Midnight Lute. Tiznow is on his dam's side. If he's anything like his grandfather on his dam's side, he'll be a late bloomer. I'm not ready to give up on this guy just yet. More than one horse has run badly in their second lifetime race. Baffert has plenty of time to turn Show Me Da Lute into a viable Kentucky Derby contender.

Klimt - I'm not ready to give up on Klimt, either. The three-year-old son of Quality Road bombed in the BC Juvenile. But, he wasn't expected to do much. He gave it his all. Klimt just couldn't accelerate enough in the stretch. I'm not as bullish on Klimt for the Triple Crown races as I am on Mastery and Show Me Da Lute. Mastery has proven that he has skills. Show Me Da Lute is built like a horse that should have no trouble navigating the Triple Crown races. Klimt is built and runs more like a sprinter. He looks a bit like Bayern when he runs. If Klimt improves, he may show up on the First Saturday in May. Or, like what Baffert did with DeFrong this year, Bob could just decide that Klimt is a sprinter and point him to towards the top sprinting events during the summer.