Any reports of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Corniche moving out of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn are premature — as of now.

Corniche-Baffert
Corniche and Mike Smith won October’s Grade 1 American Pharoah for one of his three victories in as many races. The presumptive Champion 2-Year-Old will remain with trainer Bob Baffert despite the conditioner’s suspension from the next two Kentucky Derbies. (Image: Benoit Photo)

According to the Daily Racing Form, the odds-on favorite to win the Eclipse Award as 2-Year-Old Champion will return to Baffert’s California base after a freshening at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.

Baffert trains the Quality Road colt for owners Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner, who campaign as Speedway Stable. Baffert was their go-to trainer for 2017 Pacific Classic winner Collected and 2019 Santa Anita Derby champion Roadster. But, the seven-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer was suspended by Churchill Downs for two years in the wake of Derby champion Medina Spirit’s positive drug test after the 2021 Run for the Roses.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert through the Spring 2023 season and instituted a moratorium on any Baffert-trained colts earning points on the Derby trail.

Baffert’s clients face a difficult choice

This puts Baffert’s well-heeled and well-connected clientele between the proverbial rock and equally proverbial hard place. Do they exercise loyalty to the face of the sport and risk abandoning a Derby run? Or do they forsake Baffert’s world-class training skills for a possibly less-talented conditioner?

“Peter wants to be loyal,” Marrette Farrell, who bought the colt for Speedway Stable, told the DRF. “Corniche won the Breeders’ Cup and he’s a possible 2-year-old champion. No decisions have been made — there hasn’t even been any talk about another trainer, or who he’d go to if he needs to go to another trainer. If the time comes that a decision needs to be made, if it needs to be that way, we’ll put our heads together and make a decision.”

Farrell purchased Corniche for $1.5 million at the OBS April Sale for 2-Year-Olds in Training. He’s 3-for-3 with a pair of Grade 1 wins already on the resume. After breaking his maiden at Del Mar by 4 1/4 lengths in early September, Corniche went up to Santa Anita and won the Grade 1 American Pharoah gate-to-wire by 3 1/4 lengths over Pappacap.

Corniche a single-digit Derby futures option

Corniche beat Pappacap again, this time by 1 3/4 lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That win came as the 1.40/1 favorite.

Corniche is a major underlay in Derby future wagers. With 23 weeks to go until the 2022 Derby, he’s currently the 6/1 favorite at Caesars at William Hill. Churchill Downs didn’t list him in its Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 because of Baffert’s suspension. His sire, Quality Road, closed at 10/1 on the Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *