For a few minutes Tuesday morning, trainer Bob Baffert took time out to discuss what many would consider to be the highest honor of his career.
It wasn't long, however, before Baffert turned his focus back toward the race that helped him achieve his latest accolade.
Less than 24 hours after it was announced he had been elected into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame, Baffert was taking steps toward trying to earn the fourth Kentucky Derby victory of his career when he sent multiple Grade I winner Pioneerof the Nile out for his first serious workout over the Churchill Downs track Tuesday morning.
Pioneerof the Nile, who has never run over a dirt surface, breezed 5 furlongs in 1.00:80 over an off track in a morning that saw a handful of Derby contenders get their penultimate tune-up for the race.
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Baffert said he's been pleased with the way Pioneerof the Nile "skipped over" the rain-soaked surface at Churchill.
"He's handled it well. He's handled every surface that I've put him on," Baffert said. "When he got here, he handled the slop galloping, he handled the artificial surfaces, we haven't seen a difference with him. I don't think (the dirt) will be an issue."
As he held court in front of Barn 33 at Churchill, it wasn't long before Baffert was asked how it felt to be inducted as one of the sport's all-time greats.
"It really hasn't sunken in yet, but I guess it will sink in the day they induct me (in August)," Baffert said. "I'm not comfortable with the Hall of Fame title yet. But right now, I need to win this Derby."
Joining Pioneerof the Nile on the workout tab Tuesday was Wood Memorial Stakes winner I Want Revenge.
With regular rider Joe Talamo in from California for the work, he breezed 5 furlongs in 1.01:60.
I Want Revenge worked in company with stablemate Gato Go Win, starting out about 2 lengths behind and finishing a neck in front.
"The track was a little sloppy this morning, but our horse got plenty out of it and galloped out good and strong," trainer Jeff Mullins said.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Chocolate Candy — second to Pioneerof the Nile last time out in the Santa Anita Derby — breezed 1 mile in 1:42 flat under jockey Mike Smith and Lane's End Stakes runner-up Flying Private worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 for jockey Robby Albarado.
■ Others named to the Hall of Fame on Monday were jockey Eddie Maple, steeplechase trainer Janet Elliot and horses Ben Nevis II, Tiznow and Silverbulletday.