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Baffert on Triple Crown, Pharoah

Newly-crowned Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert says history-making American American Pharoah will return to Santa Anita Park Thursday afternoon, June 18.


Photo from Arcadia Police Department Nixle service.


This will be just hours before the influx of thousands of Arcadia High School students and their families for graduation ceermonies at 6:30 p.m. (Update June 18: See video of the triumphant return below) and then make a public appearance between races on Gold Cup at Santa Anita Day, Saturday, June 27. (All fans will receive an officially licensed “American Pharoah Triple Crown Champion” T-shirt, free with paid admission and Santa Anita Thoroughbreds Club membership, the latter of which will be available, free of charge, at all T-shirt distribution locations).

In the meantime, Baffert and his wife Jill have donated $50,000 of their winnings to race industry charities. After American Pharoah’s return from a resounding victory in the Belmont Stakes in New York June 6, 2015, Baffert told a small gathering of media upon his return to Santa Anita Park on Wednesday, June 10, that he plans to get the thoroughbred back to training with the goal of racing him in the Breeders’ Cup this fall and perhaps one or two other races between now and then before he is retired to the stud farm. <Story continues below the following 3 1/2-minute video highlights of Baffert’s 45-minutes of comments to the media at Santa Anita.> YouTube format

Flash video format

Get the Flash Player to see this content.The following YouTube three-minute video was provided by Santa Anita Park showing the return of American Pharoah from exiting the plane at Ontario Airport through the police-escorted motorcade to the crowds and paparrazi awaiting the winning team at Santa Anita…

Baffert continues to emphasize how nice and kind American Pharoah is, but Baffert himself is not only one of the most approachable people at the track every morning but also very generous. He and his wife Jill Baffert last week announced a donation of $50,000 to four Thoroughbred charities: the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), Old Friends Farm and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). “Jill and I are blessed and honored to be in a position to be able to donate a portion of my earnings to these four special charities whose work is vital to our industry,” Bob said. “We hope these contributions will go a long way toward supporting and bringing awareness to the very important work these non-profit organizations do in caring for our human and equine athletes.”

American Pharoah was the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont. Hall of Fame trainer Baffert is the first trainer in history whose horse had won the first two races four times but the last three times Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) came up short at Belmont. In all, Baffert has won a total of 12 Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby four times, Preakness six times and Belmont twice) and 10 Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Baffert, who is based at Santa Anita in Arcadia, is a resident of La Canada. He said that while it seemed that everyone along his route home from New York recognized him this week, when he went to the Chipotle upon his return to La Canada, no one recognized him in his home town. CARMA Founder and Past President Madeline Auerbach said, “I spoke to both Bob and Jill before the race and they told me of their plans to shine a very bright spotlight on horse retirement.” “We are very grateful to Bob and Jill for making such a substantial contribution to CARMA,” said Lucinda Mandella, Executive Director. “Their generosity and support means so much. They have demonstrated exceptional leadership for such an important cause in our industry.”

“The TAA is proud that the Bafferts chose worthy organizations to receive this generous funding,” said Stacie Clark Rogers, Operations Consultant for the TAA. “Caring for our equine athletes after their racing careers are finished takes not only money, but initiative and leadership. We are happy to have this donation and Jill’s support on our Advisory Board. The Bafferts are setting a stellar example for our industry in making these donations and showing their commitment to helping the many horses in their stable and others whose careers won’t be as profound as American Pharoah’s.”

Old Friends Farm’s mission is to bring a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds retired from racing or breeding. They are a TAA accredited organization who recently added to their roster previous Baffert trainees Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Silver Charm and Breeders’ Cup winner Game On Dude.

The PDJF provides financial assistance to jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries, many of whom have permanent paralysis or brain damage.

“The fact that Bob and Jill chose the platform of winning the Triple Crown to show their commitment to the importance of aftercare speaks volumes,” said Jimmy Bell, president of the TAA. “The TAA is so honored and grateful for their generosity and support.”

CARMA provides funding for the rehabilitation, retraining and/or retirement of Thoroughbreds who have raced in California, where Baffert’s stable is based. CARMA (California Retirement Management Account) was founded in 2007 and has granted over $2.5 million dollars to charities that retire, retrain and rehome off-track Thoroughbreds. It is a charitable 501 (c)(3) organization formed to assist Thoroughbred rehabilitation and retirement organizations that facilitate the care and retraining of horses who raced in California and whose racing careers have ended. CARMA ensures the racehorses have retirement options by managing and disbursing funds to qualified retirement facilities caring for such horses.

Based in Lexington, Kentucky, the TAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to serve as both an accrediting body for aftercare organizations that retire, retrain and rehome Thoroughbreds following Page | 2 the conclusion of their racing careers, and a fundraising body to support these approved organizations. Funded initially by seed money from Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, the TAA is comprised of and supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare professionals and other industry groups. In 2013, the TAA awarded $1,000,000 to 23 accredited organizations and gave out an additional $2,400,000 to 42 accredited organizations in 2014. To learn more about the TAA, visit www.ThoroughbredAftercare.org.

— By Scott Hettrick

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