From Reining to Escorting American Pharoah
Bob Baffert’s American Quarter Horse This Whiz Shines is enjoying a new career as a pony horse for the 2015 Thoroughbred Triple Crown contender.
By Tara Matsler | June 2, 2015
Editor's Note: On June 6, 2015, horse-racing fans celebrated American Pharoah as the 2015 winner of the Belmont Stakes and the 12th horse to be named a Triple Crown champion. Right there by AP's side was his buckskin best friend, "Smokey." In honor of Smokey, we also compiled the "Top 12 'Smokey' Moments From the Triple Crown."
While America knows Bob Baffert as the trainer of Thoroughbred Triple Crown contender American Pharoah, Bob has his roots in American Quarter Horses, which is where he turns when he needs a trusty pony horse for his racehorses.
“I love to buy a good-minded, good-looking Quarter Horse gelding for my saddle horses,” says Bob, who was raised on a 240-acre cattle and Quarter Horse ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border. In fact, Bob first began his racing career as a trainer and jockey of Quarter Horses before making the switch in 1991 to training Thoroughbreds full time.
Bob currently owns two Quarter Horse geldings that he and other members of his staff ride around the track and use as pony horses: Wimpys High Roller, or “Sunny,” a 2009 palomino gelding by Wimpys Little Step and out of Shining High Roller by Shining Spark, and This Whiz Shines, a 2009 buckskin gelding by Shiners Chex Olena and out of Si Rositas Whiz by Whiz N Chex, whom Bob calls “Smokey.”
If you’ve been keeping up with American Pharaoh’s workouts leading up to the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes or Belmont Stakes – you’ve likely spotted Smokey.
Before starting his career as a pony horse, Smokey earned more than $1,300 in National Reining Horse Association competition.
In the May 2015 edition of America’s Horse magazine, “Where the Journey Began” examines Bob’s humble beginning with horses. In the article, Bob says his passion for horses today goes back to a band of Quarter Horse broodmares owned by his dad, Bill Baffert.
“It has been quite an adventure, and if it hadn’t been for those little Quarter Horse broodmares my father bought, winning the Kentucky Derby would still just be a dream for me,” Bob says. “That is where this whole journey began.”
Dive deep into Bob’s history with American Quarter Horses in the May issue of America’s Horse, available exclusively to AQHA members. Don't have your May print issue handy? AQHA members can log in to read the digital America's Horse or download the app for smartphones and tablets.