The Dortmund Conspiracy: Why Baffert Is Running Him in the Preakness

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Ed DeRosa

May 16th, 2015

Dortmund is not in the Preakness Stakes because he can’t win; he’s in the Preakness Stakes because he has a better chance of winning the Belmont Stakes.

One of the more interesting storylines surrounding the Kentucky Derby was what Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert would do if he won his fourth Kentucky Derby with either favorite American Pharoah or second choice Dortmund.

Baffert trains Derby winner American Pharoah for Zayat Stables and Derby third Dortmund for Kaleem Shah. His thinking is that both owners deserve a shot at the Preakness with their multiple Grade 1 winners, and he’s right.

But I also suspect that Baffert did not want to skip the Preakness with Dortmund, win the race with American Pharoah, then set himself for thwarting his own Triple Crown bid with a horse who would make perfect sense for the Belmont with any other trainer.

If Dortmund wins the Preakness then he’s in just as good a position to win a championship as American Pharoah as both would have two Grade 1 wins including a classic, and depending on how he wins the Preakness (and where American Pharoah finishes) some might suspect he’s the better horse after all.

If Dortmund loses the Preakness (even if it’s by a nose to American Pharoah) then Baffert won’t feel any pressure or give a second thought to skipping the Belmont with a horse who has raced eight times in 6 ½ months.

Baffert also might suspect that Dortmund will be in his barn longer. One of the worst kept secrets in the two weeks since the Derby is that Coolmore has acquired the breeding rights to American Pharoah, and that’s not a stallion operation known for racing two-year-old champions as four-year-olds (e.g. Lookin At Lucky, Hansen, Uncle Mo, Shanghai Bobby).

We’re in for a great race today, but enjoy it while you can!