WinStar Farm’s grade 1 winner Country Grammer is now training in New York with Todd Pletcher after he was transferred from trainer Bob Baffert’s barn in California.
The move to Pletcher’s barn was first reported by Daily Racing Form.
According to WinStar president, CEO, and racing manager Elliott Walden, Country Grammer is a possibility for the $400,000 Suburban Stakes (G2) July 3 at Belmont Park, where Baffert has been banned for an indefinite time period from entering horses in the aftermath of post-race drug tests revealing a substance barred on race day in the system of Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Medina Spirit .
The Suburban is a “Win and You’re In” stakes awarding the victor a free spot in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
By shipping Country Grammer east, it gives WinStar the additional option of running him in the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) Aug. 7 at Saratoga Race Course. The Whitney is also a “Win and You’re In” stakes for the Classic.
“With the ban on Bob in Kentucky and New York right now, our opportunities are limited to (the TVG Pacific Classic, G1, at Del Mar) in late August. With Improbable last year, we came east and ran in the Whitney which helped him win an Eclipse Award. We are continuing to evaluate the situation with Bob and will adjust as we need to,” Walden said via text.
WinStar Stablemates Racing’s Kentucky-based Crystal Ball , runner-up in the 2020 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), was previously shifted from Baffert to trainer Rodolphe Brisset. She is entered in the $250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes June 26 at Thistledown.
Baffert was suspended for a two-year period by Churchill Downs Inc. June 2.
Bred by Scott and Debbie Pierce in Kentucky out of the Forestry mare Arabian Song, Country Grammer started his career for original owner Paul Pompa Jr. in New York and won last year’s Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown.
Following Pompa’s Oct. 9, 2020, death, Country Grammer and the rest of Pompa’s stable were sold. He was purchased by WinStar for $110,000 from the Lane’s End consignment at the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale and sent to Baffert.
In the first of his two starts for Baffert, Country Grammer was second by a neck to Royal Ship in the April 17 Californian Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.