Bob Baffert opens Del Mar’s summer meet with two victories

Bob Baffert opens Del Mar’s summer meet with two victories

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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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Trainer Bob Baffert waits for the Breeders' Cup horse races at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., Nov. 5, 2021. Taiba is the slight 7-5 favorite over the undefeated Jack Christopher in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on Saturday, July 23, 2022, the first major race for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown. Taiba is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who is seeking to extend his stakes record with a 10th Haskell victory at Monmouth Park. 

Trainer Bob Baffert waits for the Breeders’ Cup horse races at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., Nov. 5, 2021. Taiba is the slight 7-5 favorite over the undefeated Jack Christopher in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on Saturday, July 23, 2022, the first major race for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown. Taiba is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who is seeking to extend his stakes record with a 10th Haskell victory at Monmouth Park.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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

Kentucky Derby entrant Taiba gets a bath after a workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. Taiba is the slight 7-5 favorite over the undefeated Jack Christopher in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on Saturday, the first major race for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown. 

Kentucky Derby entrant Taiba gets a bath after a workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. Taiba is the slight 7-5 favorite over the undefeated Jack Christopher in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on Saturday, the first major race for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

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 this photo provided by Equi-Photo, Haskell contender Taiba, exercise rider Na Somsanit up, is led by groom Roberto Luna after a morning gallop at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, N.J., Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

In this photo provided by Equi-Photo, Haskell contender Taiba, exercise rider Na Somsanit up, is led by groom Roberto Luna after a morning gallop at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, N.J., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Bill Denver/Equi-Photo via AP)

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.

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