(Trainer Bob Baffert / Photo by Gene McLean)

These are very trying times, to be sure. Nothing seems to be the same. Nothing seems to be certain. Nothing seems right in the world. Nothing seems to be the same.

Seemingly, we can’t count on anything right now.

Accept for one thing, that is.

Accept for the fact that trainer Bob Baffert — who has become one of the greatest Thoroughbred trainer of all-time and a Master at getting horses ready for the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown — is right where everyone now expects him to be.

Accept for the fact that trainer Bob Baffert has a loaded hand going into the final preps for this year’s Kentucky Derby — whenever it may be.

Accept for the fact that trainer Bob Baffert may have the best group of 3-year-olds in the world.

All under his barn roof. All in his care.

On Saturday, when all the world seems to be crumbling around them, “The Baffert Bunch” proved to be the most stable thing in the land for the world’s greatest Thoroughbred racing stable.

(Nadal / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

First, the grand Nadal, a strapping son of Blame and one of “Baffert’s Bunch,” took on all contenders — early, often, and late — and captured the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

Simply put? It was as impressive a performance that you will see in a horse race.

The speedsters hooked Nadal early, latching onto his neck and trying with all their might to suck the joy right out of his racing legs.

The speedsters wavered. Nadal did not.

The middle runners came next, racing right up to his nostril on the outside. They, too, were trying with all their might to stick their heads in front for just a moment in time. They, too, were trying to such the joy right out of Nadal’s game.

The middle runners wavered. Nadal did not.

And, then came the late surgery. With every stride in the stretch, it looked as if Excession would have succession. With every run, it looked as if he would collar Nadal and do what the others could not. With every stride, it looked as if Excession would go by at the wire and win.

The late runner wavered, at the end. Nadal did not.

It was a performance were noting and worth talking about.

(Charlatan / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

But the glamor did not last too long. Just a few minutes later, “The Baffert Bunch” sent out the lightly raced and most recent newcomer to the banner and banter — Charlatan.

The 3YO son of Speightstown had turned heads in the morning. But could he possibly be as good as Authentic, the impressive winner for the G2 San Felipe Stakes just a week ago? Could be even warm up Nadal, the fast and furious winner of the Rebel Stakes? Could he join “The Baffert Bunch?”

He could.

He did.

In an overpowering performance on Saturday, Charlatan swamped his competition out of the boat and off the Santa Anita racetrack to easily win an allowance race in just his 2nd career start. And, the colt left the world asking?

Who was more impressive? Charlatan or Nadal?

That question will be rested until another day; another encounter; another test.

(Authentic / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

(Thousand Words / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

(Eight Rings / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

But it is safe to say that “The Baffert Bunch” is now entrenched at the top of this year’s KY Derby contenders. And, if you think that Authentic, Nadal and Charlatan are serious — and they truly are — then you don’t have to look far down the shed row or the bench to find the likes of Thousand Words and Eight Rings still waiting in the wings, too.

In short, “The Baffert Bunch” is a Dream Team.

And, they will be a nightmare for others when we get to KY Derby Day 2020.

Whenever that may be.

Horse Sire Trainer Jockey Last Race Next Race Comments
1 Authentic Into Mischief Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 1st in G2 San Felipe Stakes G1 Santa Anita Derby — SA on April 4 He Is Truly Authentic / Real Deal / Next Coming?
2 Nadal Blame Bob Baffert Joel Rosario 1st in G2 Rebel Stakes TBD Speed Was Challenged / Level of Guts Was Answered
3 Charlatan Speightstown Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 1st in SA Allowance TBD Another Justify? Another Baffert Derby Winner? Another One
4 Tiz the Law Constitution Barclay Tagg Manny Franco 1st in the G3 Holy Bull Stakes G1 Florida Derby — GP on March 28 Looks To Be the Goods / Can He Beat Baffert’s Bunch?
5 Enforceable Tapit Mark Casse Julien Leparoux 2nd in G2 Risen Star Stakes G2 Louisiana Derby — FG on March 21 Another Challenge Coming Up This Weekend / Up to It?
6 Independence Hall Constitution Michael Trombetta Jose Ortiz 2nd in the Sam F. Davis Stakes G1 Florida Derby — GP on March 28 Still Like This One
7 Modernist Uncle Mo Bill Mott Junior Alvarado 1st in G2 Risen Star Stakes G2 Louisiana Derby — FG on March 21 Skeptics Still Abound / I’m a Believer
8 Silver Prospector Declaration of War Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana, Jr 6th in Rebel Stakes TBD Caught Another Muddy Track & Didn’t Swim / Pattern?
9 Honor A.P. Honor Code John Sherriffs Mike Smith 2nd in G2 San Felipe Stakes G1 Santa Anita Derby — SA on April 4 May Be The Only “Real Challenge” to Baffert’s Bunch
10 Wells Bayou Lookin At Lucky Brad Cox Florent Geroux 2nd in G3 Southwest Stakes G2 Louisiana Derby — FG on March 21 Big Test This Saturday / Cram Time
11 Sole Volante Karakontie Patrick Biancone Florent Geroux 2nd in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby G2 Wood Memorial — AQU on April 4 Ran OK in Tampa Bay Derby / OK Ain’t Going to Cut It
12 Storm The Court Court Vision Peter Eurton Flavien Prat 3rd in G2 San Felipe Stakes TBD Authentic Drilled Him / Can He Make Up That Many Lengths
13 Basin Liam’s Map Steve Asmussen Jose Ortiz 3rd in the G2 Rebel Stakes TBD Not a Bad Effort in the Rebel Off Long Layup / Must Improve
14 Thousand Words Pioneerof the Nile Bob Baffert Flavien Prat 4th in the G2 San Felipe Stakes G2 Wood Memorial — AQU on April 4 Awful Ride in San Felipe / New Rider? Please?
15 Shotski Blame Jeremiah O’Dwyer John Velazquez 4th in G2 FOY Stakes TBD What’s Next? Speedy Type May Need to Just Go
16 Eight Rings Empire Maker Bob Baffert John Velazquez 6th in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile TBD Time to Make a Decision & Go / Or Forget & Regroup
17 Shoplifted Into Mischief Steve Asmussen Brian Hernandez 4th in the G3 Southwest Stakes TBD Sunland Derby Has Been Cancelled / Where Now?
18 Gouverneur Morris Constitution Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano 1st in Tampa Bay Alw G1 Florida Derby — GP on March 28 Florida Derby? Wow! Step It Up, Big Fella
19 Dennis’ Moment Tiznow Dale Romans Irad Ortiz, Jr. 10th in the G2 FOY Stakes G2 Blue Grass Stakes — KEE on April 4 What Is Going On Now? Time to Find Out
20 Mailman Money Goldencents W. Bret Calhoun Gabriel Saez 4th in G2 Risen Star Stakes G2 Louisiana Derby — FG on March 21 Connections Win the LA Derby 2 Years in a Row?
AE List
1 Structor Palace Malice Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 1st in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf TBD Waiting Game On This One
2 Three Technique Mr. Speaker Jeremiah Englehart Luis Saez 4th in the G2 Rebel Stakes TBD Had Some Traffic Issues Out of the Last Turn / Mild Interest
3 Ete Indien Summer Front Patrick Biancone Florent Geroux 1st in G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes G1 Florida Derby — GP on March 28 Real Deal or Real Fake News? Time Will Tell