Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had two victories on the opening weekend of Del Mar’s summer meet, three weeks after his 90-day suspension ended.
Havnameltdown won by 2 1/4 lengths in his first career start in Sunday’s $80,000 fourth race at the seaside track north of San Diego. The 2-year-old colt is owned by longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
On Saturday, Baffert won a $16,000 claiming race with 3-year-old colt Sumo.
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They are among 45 horses Baffert shipped down from his training base at Santa Anita near Los Angeles. He didn’t enter any of the lucrative stakes races on opening weekend of the meet that began Friday.
On Saturday, Taiba finished second by a head for Baffert in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park.
Baffert’s lengthy suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission ended July 2.
HALL OF FAME TRAINER BOB BAFFERT’S HORSE TAIBA IS FAVORITE IN $1 MILLION HASKELL STAKES
He earned his first victory since coming back in the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby a week later.
In April, Baffert began serving the suspension for a failed post-race drug test involving Medina Spirit, who finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert wasn’t allowed on the grounds at any track and his horses were turned over to other trainers in his absence.
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In June, the New York Racing Association suspended Baffert for one year for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. That punishment, which bars him from Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct, ends Jan. 26.
The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs that will keep him out of the Kentucky Derby for two years. He is suing the Louisville track to have it overturned.