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How’s the weather for Preakness? Ask Bob Baffert’s son

Kentucky Derby winner Justify, with exercise rider Humberto

Kentucky Derby winner Justify, with exercise rider Humberto Gomez aboard, gallops around the track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 17, 2018. Credit: AP / Patrick Semansky

BALTIMORE — As you might expect, Bode Baffert, the 13-year-old son of trainer Bob Baffert, is a dedicated student of handicapping. But not of horses — of clouds. He prefers The Weather Channel to TVG.

Bode has no desire to follow the career path of his world-famous father. Years ago, he decided he wanted to become a meteorologist.

“Before a big race, Bode updates me on the forecast every 20 minutes,” Baffert said Thursday at Pimlico. “He follows the Doppler.”

During Kentucky Derby weekend, rain was predicted for late Thursday night and into Friday. It held off until Saturday, when it dumped a Derby-record 3-plus inches on a crowd of 157,813.

Baffert said when he told his son that the rain would be gone before the first Saturday in May, Bode wasn’t buying it. “He told me before I went to Louisville, ‘Dad, you’d better hope Justify likes the mud,’ ” Baffert said.

Just before the Derby field left the saddling paddock, a torrential downpour hit. Baffert said Bode saw it coming.

“I’d never seen rain that bad,” Baffert said. “Bode predicted that cloudburst when we were in the paddock, so we were able to get out of there in a hurry.”

Endless rain

Overnight rain Friday continued into Saturday morning, which led to 40 scratches. Of the six scheduled turf races, only one, the Gallorette Stakes, was still left on a sipped grass course that was rated soft.

No scratches in the Preakness Stakes, which was the good news.

Waiting for the Belmont

Mike Repole planned to watch the Preakness at home on Long Island. He’s getting primed for the Belmont Stakes on June 9, and he’s upbeat about the chances of Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso, a colt he co-owns with Vinnie Viola. Repole grew up in Middle Village, Queens, and Viola in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

“They’re both New York guys,’’ trainer Todd Pletcher said, “and they want to win the Belmont.”

Many handicappers considered Vino Rosso a live longshot in the Derby, when he finished ninth, 10½ lengths behind Justify. The 14-1 shot had a very wide trip from post 18 and never was able to make any impact. Repole thinks the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin will handle the distance of the 1½-mile “Test of the Champion.”

“We’re getting Vino Rosso ready for the Belmont,” Repole told Newsday. “I’m having all my trainers gear up my horses for Belmont day. I’m hoping to have six or seven run so we can win some stakes in front of about 50 friends and family.”

Around the track

Daily Racing Form reporter David Grening, a Nassau County guy, tweeting about rain-drenched Pimlico: “This week’s Preakness hashtag: #getyourponchoon.”

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