Second Generation Kentucky Derby Winners

Breeding has since changed. Racing in general has altered its course with updated factors that now play into training a champion as well. Even as the majority of exceptional horses that were gifted 3-yr-olds, as well as sires, are not so common, the chances of it occurring again are here.

This weekend the Road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby takes us to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana for the G3 LeComte Stakes. Here you’ll find Smarty’s Echo, by 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, racing for the chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby and a shot at becoming the next Father, Son team to accomplish the rare but thrilling achievement.

Since the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 a total of 13 winners reached the pinnacle of racing just like their sire had done before. The last time the son of Kentucky Derby winner also wore the roses was in 1996. It wasGrindstone, by Unbridled, that stuck his nose in front of a hard charging Cavonnier and rode off into the sunset. The Kentucky Derby would be Grindstone’s final race as he was retired shortly thereafter. However, the champion owned and bred by Overbrook Farm will always be remembered for joining this elusive club.

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How Good was Affirmed in 1978?

Maybe there is no secret to becoming a Triple Crown winner. Maybe all that’s required is simply being that good. Since 1978, a total of twelve horses have arrived at the Belmont Stakes with the hope of winning one more and earning the chance to stand next to Affirmed in the halls of the racing immortals. The failure or misfortune of those attempts is what brings us to the current state of the Triple Crown and the record breaking drought that began after one of the most memorable stretch duels in racing history.

Over these long and grueling 35 years there have been many theories as to why we haven’t seen another Triple Crown winner. Along with that there has been even more analysis of what it will take to be the next. Not to dismiss any of them for some are valid and intriguing but maybe sometimes we’re making it too complicated. Perhaps there answer is rather simple; Affirmed was one of the greatest and since he dazzled us in 1978 we have yet to see a horse match his brilliance.

Has there been a 3-yr-old as good as Affirmed since 1978?

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Spotlight: Bob Baffert

“You try to get excited, but it's not healthy.You can't get excited until you get to this time of year.”-Bob Baffert

The Derby Post is happy to spotlight 2007 hall of fame inductee, trainer and Kentucky Derby winner, Bob Baffert.  Still operating on the West Coast, Baffert has worked his way to becoming a California star.  With his Kentucky Derby success and years of hard work, Bob has given an awful lot to the sport and racing industry.  He is back on the trail again this year, most notably, with Jaycito and The Factor along with potential sleeper, Awesome Patriot.  I’ve been known to side with Baffert on Derby Day before (Lookin at Lucky, PioneeroftheNile, Congaree) so bet on me taking a long careful look at this year’s prospects. 

Raised on a ranch in Southern Arizona, Bob’s initial dreams of horse racing lied directly in the saddle.  After learning to gallop horses,  he set his sights on becoming a jockey.  Although he enjoyed success, the task of staying below weight was too much to ask.  However, his passion for the sport and horses remained and he advanced on to becoming a trainer.  After graduating from the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona he began the next phase of his career in Quarter Horse Racing.  Similiar to the majority of sport icons, success at a single level wasn’t enough and in the early ’90’s Bob Baffert officially transitioned into Thoroughbred Racing.

Baffert first made news in ’92 when his horse Thirty Slews won the Breeders Cup Sprint.  So, he was up and running and it wasn’t long before he found himself on the verge of winning the Run for the Roses.  In ’96 he entered onto the Kentucky Derby stage with his first derby starter.  Cavonnier looked like a winner taking the lead at the top of the stretch but was tracked down and clipped by a nose at the wire.  As any competitor would, Baffert returned to Churchill Downs in ’97 ready to play.  What ensued was derby triumph with Silver Charm followed by Real Quiet in ’98.  Both years he also won the Preakness Stakes becoming the only trainer in history to win the first two jewels of the triple crown in back to back years.  In 2002, Baffert reappeared in the winners circle with surprise winner War Emblem @ 21-1 odds.  A Preakness Stakes winner as well, War Emblem still stands today as the only winner to come from the Illinois Derby here in Chicago.  Although the bids for the triple crown came up just short, all three years were spectacular to watch. 

At this time of year you should see why so many people will be looking to his barn and wondering if number 4 is on the way.  As with any accomplished trainer, the attention is well deserved.  We wish him the best of luck this year on the trail to the derby and look for him to continue to bring his California style, personality and excitement to the game. 

Written by: Little Brink 

**Off the Derby Trail Baffert has been hard at work and has a very BIG weekend upcoming with four starters in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap.  That’s right 4 horses: First Dude, Game On Dude, Spurrier and Tweebster.  Will be an interesting race, look forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Spotlight: Nick Zito

 As we begin to spotlight names and faces in the racing world, we here at The Derby Post felt we should begin with one of the most recognizable personalities in the sport today, Nick Zito. Not only has Zito trained two Kentucky Derby winning horses, Strike the Gold (1991) and Go For Gin (1994), if everything goes right, he just stamped his derby ticket this past weekend with Holy Bull Stakes winner Dialed In

A New York boy born and bred, Zito has been training horses since the early 1970s winning his first race in 1972.  His popularity in Florida, Kentucky, and especially New York has made him a fan favorite in the world of horse racing.  His enthusiasm is infectious and he brings excitement and professionalism to the sport of kings.   

According to, Zito began to garner national recognition with a horse by the name of Thirty Six Red.  Bought for $92,000, Thirty Six Red won the 1990 Gotham Stakes and Wood Memorial Stakes.  Later in the year, he ran 2nd in the Belmont Stakes and 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Three years later Mr. Zito would add a new line to his distinguished résumé: Kentucky Derby winning trainer.

Notable Achievements

Nick Zito has helped redefine horse racing over the last thirty years.  He is a consummate professional and his love of the sport makes him one of the most exciting people to watch from the stands.  We wish him the best of luck this year on the trail to the derby and we will be keeping a close eye on Dialed In.