Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert became the winningest trainer in the Kentucky Derby's 147-year history on Saturday, when Medina Spirit pulled off an upset to give him his 7th victory in the premiere race.
Afterwards, Baffert said he was really surprised the horse won, crediting his big heart. But what's even more surprising is what he said next. Baffert said he got a lot of good luck from someone who knows a thing or two about winning.
From one B.B. to another, Baffert said it was none other than New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who brought him luck in the 147th Run for the Roses.
When asked what his record seventh victory meant to him, Baffert said, "I just can’t believe it, hasn’t sunken in yet. I love the record and all that, but you know what, it’s one of those things where I’m just so thrilled cause when you win it, you never know if you’re ever gonna be back, it’s so difficult. And to win a seventh, I think Bill Belichick gave me a lot of good luck the other day when we did that little interview."
"If we stay focused, keep working at it, and hopefully you’ll get here, and I couldn’t be prouder of my team, but that little horse, he won it today... He doesn’t know how much he cost, but you know what, what a little race horse. He was all race horse today," Baffert added of Medina Spirit, a dark brown colt that was purchased as a yearling for $1,000 and cost current owner Amr Zedan $35,000.
The 'little interview' Baffert is referring to is when he was joined virtually by the Patriots coach — who is a longtime horse racing enthusiast — and NBC Sports host Mike Tirico in the days leading up to the race.
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In the conversation, which aired Saturday as part of NBC’s presentation of the Derby, Belichick and Baffert expressed mutual admiration and acknowledged how difficult it is to continue winning at the highest level.
"It's such an honor really to be here with Bob, so much respect for what you've done and I know racing is a tough profession," Belichick said. "You get one shot at it. There's no half time, there's no timeout to make adjustments. Once they come out of the gate, that's it. You got two minutes to win and that's an incredible skill. I have so much admiration for what you do."
Baffert said it all comes down to what the two have in common.
"You know what we have in common, is you know we do get good players, but we know what to do with them when we get them and that's the thing. And it's all about results," Baffert said.
The two are certainly no strangers to success. Belichick, 69, has won the Super Bowl six times -- more than any other coach in NFL history. And now Baffert, 68, has more Kentucky Derby wins than any other trainer, with Saturday's victory breaking his tie with Ben Jones.
But the pair agrees: the more success you have, the more challenging it becomes to get the next title.
"To me it gets harder because it's expected of you," Baffert said. "We expect Bill Belichick to win the Super Bowl every year, and expect Bob Baffert to win, and it's difficult, because they don't know what the process was just to get there."
Belichick added, "It's just so competitive. There's so many good players, so many good coaches, so many good teams. Each one I think you have a little more appreciation for, but also recognize how much harder it is to get that next one."
So with them both at the top of their games, what keeps them going?
For Belichick, it's simple.
"I enjoy it," he said. "I enjoy it. I enjoy every day of it. There have been a couple of weeks that haven't gone so good, but you snap out of it and bounce back, and you just turn the page and go, 'on to Cincinnati.'"
"That's right," Baffert replied with a chuckle. "I'm like Bill. I love the competition. Who's gonna be the next star? Am I gonna have another American Pharaoh, another Justify? I love coming in the morning, I'm outdoors, I just concentrate on what I have to do, and block out the noise. And just continue on and be successful."
Tirico noticed Belichick liked what he heard, saying to Baffert, “As soon as you said, ‘Block out the noise,’ that was the biggest smile and head nod I’ve seen from Bill in years!”
"I'm gonna use that one, Bob. 'Block out the noise.' I love that," the typically stoic and unflappable coach said.