As one of the giant trainers of horse racing, Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby three times, and his horses have earned more than $112 million. And who does Baffert cite as an inspiration in his phenomenal career in racing? A jockey? Fellow trainer? Nope. Charlton Heston.
Growing up in Arizona, Baffert vividly recalls seeing “Ben-Hur” at age 6 and can still see the iconic chariot races play in his head over and over. But it was also Heston’s humane treatment of the horses that made a subliminal impression.
“I remember how he got those horses and then how he took care of them,” Baffert says. “I remember it so well, seeing it with my parents.”
There have been other memorable horse-racing films, of course, and Baffert has a personal connection to at least one of them: “Seabiscuit” was partly filmed at Southern California’s Santa Anita race track, and Baffert got to know director Gary Ross as well as become friends with jockey Gary Stevens, who played George Woolf.
Although he won’t be the first to run out and catch a musical — either onscreen or onstage — “The Sound of Music” holds fond memories for him. “It’s the only musical I’ve ever liked, the only one I could watch,” he says. “As a kid, I had a crush on Julie Andrews. I think everyone did.”