Bob Baffert, who trains Kentucky Derby hopeful Pioneerof the Nile, is confident the Empire Maker colt will have no problem converting to the dirt at Churchill Downs after running his first six races over synthetic tracks, including victories in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 in his 3-year-old debut.
But Bill Mott, who trained Pioneerof the Nile during his 2-year-old season, is not so sure. According to Dan Silver of the New York Racing Association, this is what Mott had to say concerning the colt adapting to dirt:
“To me, he always looked a little bit smoother going over the turf than he did on the dirt. He worked well over the dirt as well, but the surface he looked exceptionally well going over was the synthetic, even better than he looked on the turf. Just from watching him work and gallop, I would have rated him synthetic number 1, turf number 2, and dirt number 3, with more to find out on the dirt.”
Interesting stuff. Like Baffert says, there’s only one way to find out and that’s on Derby day May 2.