Baffert backs Dettori decision to embark on Californian chapter

Bob Baffert is excited to see Frankie Dettori’s famous flying dismount again when the Italian returns to California following his retirement U-turn.

The American handler was a big supporter of Dettori when he headed to America last winter and Baffert has indicated he will be keen to provide the 52-year-old with plenty of ammunition when he relocates to be based out of Santa Anita following his Qipco British Champions Day swansong.

Baffert and Dettori have linked up to great effect in the past, claiming Dubai World Cup honours with Country Grammer in 2022, while that horse also kickstarted the jockey’s spell in America last winter when winning the San Antonio Stakes.

Baffert is now relishing Dettori’s return to California and the opportunity to enjoy many more victories together.

“I think it is terrific news for the sport and the fans of racing in California,” Baffert told the PA news agency.

“In particular I can’t wait to see some more of his flying dismounts from my horses in the Santa Anita winner’s circle, because that is really entertaining and the fans really come out to see him.

“He’s an icon in the sport of racing and probably the most notable jockey I know around the world.

“We’ve got some horses here and I’ll definitely use him. I don’t have anything for him for the Breeders’ Cup – if he would have been here a month or so ago I probably would have – but I will definitely put him on some good ones.”

Baffert’s support will be a boost for Dettori who has the aim of adding the Kentucky Derby to his illustrious CV during his overseas career extension.

Some of the duo’s biggest triumphs together have come on dirt and the Hall of Fame handler – who oversaw the careers of Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify – believes the Italian’s ability to ride effectively on all surfaces is something he has rarely seen during his career.

“Not only is he a great athlete but he is really intelligent, has great hands and rides the dirt really well,” explained Baffert.

“I thought he was going to come over here and be a turf specialist, but he’s great on either surface and that is very rare and there has only been a dozen or so jockeys who are that kind of rider.

“He knows how to place a horse and how to get a horse to relax and his input is really important – he will get off and tell you how he felt about a horse, what he needs, the style and everything.

“Dirt racing is a different animal and you are going fast the whole way. It is not sitting there in those mile-and-a-half races reading a book down the back side and then everybody goes for home and he’s just incredible.

“He’s reacts really well in a tough situation and he’s used to riding heavy favourites. When he’s got a target on his back, he’s used to it, and he can handle the pressure.

“Unfortunately as a trainer, you can’t blame the jockey when you use Frankie Dettori – that is the only downfall.”

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