Bob Baffert hasn’t held back when disclosing his secret to domination of the Haskell Invitational.
Baffert credits his five victories in the monumental Monmouth Park matchup to a cuisine ritual: eating a Max’s hot dog before the race. Mind you, only one.
Max’s Famous Hot Dogs is a landmark eatery in Long Branch that’s been intertwined with horse racing from the start. Businessman Milford Maybaum, who bought the restaurant and became known as “Mr. Max,” was heavily involved in racing. He owned several race horses and often traveled to various tracks. There was even a horse named after his wife – known as “Mrs. Max” – tabbed Hot Dog Queen, who ran, of course, at Monmouth.
This year, Baffert will miss his excursion to Max’s, and he won’t be in attendance to watch Paynter, the Haskell favorite. The trainer is staying in California to oversee his runners at Del Mar. With his recent health issues, it might be for the best he doesn’t chow down.
According to an Associated Press story this week, Baffert told assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes to take over hot dog duties – and to get there before rival trainer Dale Romans, who has Dullahan in the race.
Superstitious bettors, however, are leery of Paynter in light of this development. Will it really be the same if Barnes eats the hot dog? Does this signal an end to Baffert’s reign?
Wager wisely with the “winning wiener” angle.