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Special sprinter brings Baffert back to Dubai

Dubai, UAE, March 22, 2011 - The last time Bob Baffert visited Dubai, he collected his second gold whip as the trainer of a Dubai World Cup winner, leaving an impact on racing’s richest event unparalleled by any conditioner except Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor.
When Baffert returned on Tuesday, he found that so much had changed in Dubai he didn’t recognize the city—and he got lost in the sprawling grandstand at Meydan. But Baffert’s trademark silver hair and his equally silver tongue, in the figurative sense, saved him.
“I was wandering around the grandstand when I heard a security guard say, ‘Excuse me, sir. Can I see some identification?’”Baffert related.
“I said, ‘You’re looking at it. It’s my hair,” he continued, laughing at his own sense of humor.
“This place is just awesome. You see pictures of the grandstand but you can’t actually appreciate it until you’re here. You could fit me whole hometown of Nogales, Arizona, inside that place—all the people of Nogales could live in there—it’s unbelievable,” he said.
Baffert convinced the security guard to let him pass and eventually he found his way to Meydan’s fifth floor, where he observed a 600m workout by his speedy Group One US$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen entrant Euroears in :35.26. After the move through a dramatic sun-spiked fog, Baffert proclaimed his charge ready to race on Saturday.
Although Meydan is a light years change from the Dubai World Cup’s previous home at Nad Al Sheba, and it seems impossible that it has been a full decade since Baffert came to Dubai to saddle a runner, in other ways there was a sense of déjà vu about the scene. Baffert knows how to win in Dubai, having sent out Silver Charm and Captain Steve to capture the Dubai World Cup in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and thus his enthusiasm about Euroears is noteworthy.
“I remember telling His Highness Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid Al Maktoum] I was coming here to take home his money,” Baffert joked, recalling the Arabian Nights party prior to Captain Steve’s victory at which he and Dubai’s ruler chatted about what it takes to win the Group One Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup.
Enshrined in the American Racing Hall of Fame, Baffert has saddled three Kentucky Derby winners and amassed six other classic wins in the U.S., and he currently is preparing strong 2011 Derby candidates The Factor and Jaycito.
In past years, he has decided to stay in America with his classic hopefuls but after winning the Group Two Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on March 19 with The Factor, he flew back to California and then jumped on a plane to Dubai. Since fun is never far from his mind, he said that, in addition to trying to win the Golden Shaheen, he plans to go to Ski Dubai and the Wild Wadi water theme park.
But the primary reason Baffert is back in Dubai for the first time since Captain Steve’s victory is the talent of Euroears. The robust chestnut son of Langfuhr, previously trained by Bret Calhoun, has only raced one time for Baffert, winning the Group Two Palos Verdes Stakes in an electrifying 1:07.23 for 1200m (six furlongs). That performance convinced Baffert that Euroears is something special at sprint distances.
“I was debating on whether to come or not, but I decided I was going to go because this is a really nice horse,” Baffert said. “And it’s good to be back.”