Bob Baffert reacts to being the bad guy in '50 To 1'
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is repeatedly depicted as the sneering face of the racing establishment in the new film about Mine That Bird's improbable 2009 Kentucky Derby victory. Though Baffert said Wednesday he had not seen the movie, he has heard enough about it to be annoyed.
"Chip Woolley told me, 'You were the only nice guy to me all week and they made you a rotten son of a gun in the movie,' " Baffert said, recounting a conversation with Mine That Bird's trainer. "I had an owner call me up in Arkansas and tell me, "Man, you ought to sue.' They made me the villain."
Director Jim Wilson's film traces the improbable path Woolley and Mine That Bird's owners took to the winner's circle at Churchill Downs.
Wilson, who is also credited among the film's writers, says he has known Baffert for 25 years, and that, "he can be pretty arrogant at times."
As the trainer of three Derby winners and 2009 runner-up Pioneerof The Nile, Baffert also made for a convenient and familiar foil.
"If you take a shot at somebody," Wilson said, "Baffert's the guy."
"They knocked Bobby a little bit," said jockey Calvin Borel, who plays himself in the film. "You know how Bobby is."
White-haired actor Bruce Wayne Eckelman plays Baffert with his trademark sunglasses, but without the humor that often lightens some of the trainer's more caustic comments.
"Everybody knows that horse doesn't belong here," Eckelman says of Mine That Bird in one scene. "Frankly, I wouldn't be worried if they had God riding for them.''
Baffert compared the portrayal to that of the late trainer Pancho Martin in Disney's "Secretariat." Martin, who trained the rival three-year-old Sham, was shown as obnoxious and belligerent in an effort to create an antagonist in the story of a surpassing thoroughbred whose Triple Crown campaign was short on real drama.
Baffert, by comparison, comes off as snide but not combative, and is shown in his last scene giving a grudgingly gracious post-race interview about Mine That Bird's connections.
"I'm the only one who would talk to them all week 'cause I knew them," Baffert said Wednesday outside his barn. "I knew those guys (from) the quarterhorse business. For some reason, Jim Wilson and those guys, they never asked me. That's not me at all. ...
"But what are you going to do? Luckily, I don't think very many people are going to see that movie. I don't think I have anything to worry about."
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