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Tim Yaktin brings 2 main horses to the 1st Ky Derby | WGN Radio 720

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ARCADIA, CA (AP) Tim Yaktin has previously been to the Kentucky Derby with good horses. Now the coach at Churchill Downs is managing for the first time the two main contenders, previously coached by Hall of Fame member Bob Baffert.

Yaktin has worked twice before in his career as a student under Buffert, who will not be at the Derby on Saturday because he is serving a 90-day deflection imposed by Kentucky officials. The six-time Derby winner was also rejected for two years by Churchill Downs Inc.

This may seem inconvenient to most, except for Yaktin.

“I would not say that I think there is any embarrassment,” he said. “I just feel really happy and lucky.”

Surprised, Yaktin received calls from the owners of Messi and Taiba asking him to train their budding stars.

“I was honored that they had the confidence that I could continue to carry the torch,” he said, perched on a chest near Messier’s stall in his Santa Anita barn.

Buffert abandoned the foal to serve a sentence handed down after last year’s Derby winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for an anti-inflammatory drug that is banned on race day.

Buffert’s suspension does not give him access to Santa Anita, and Yaktin said they have not spoken since he took charge of Messi, who became the third choice in Derby 8-1, and Taiba, who scored 12 -1.

Taiba is owned by Amr Zedan, who led the Medina Spirit campaign before the foal died in December after training in Santa Anita.

Yaktin has in his barn about 30 horses of different abilities. The addition of Messier and Taiba gave a boost of positive energy, he said.

“I never, ever woke up and didn’t want to go to work,” he said. “I really like it.”

Highlights in Yaktin’s career include four wins in first-class betting, including Taiba in the recent Santa Anita derby and the Eclipse award for the sprint champion, scoring points from Offthebench. He has more than 250 career victories and more than $ 12 million in profits.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride the Taibe in Derby, successfully teaming up with Yaktin in California.

“He’s one of those guys you feel confident about when you go after him,” Smith said. “He’s been here long enough. I think it will be great. “

Yaktin was raised in Germany, where his Lebanese father worked in the U.S. Army after receiving American citizenship.

He moved to the United States at the age of 18 in 1982, joining his sister, who lived near the Los Alamites racetrack in Cypress, California. He was the first to race and was fascinated.

“That night was tense, and she’s been with me ever since,” he said.

He got a daily job on the track, working in advertising, group sales and marketing. At night he watched the race.

Soon Yaktin made his way to the stable, offering to work for free filling of buckets with water and cleaning stalls. He started living in the device.

“I liked every aspect,” he said. “I had a goal that I wanted to be part of the industry.”

After he began harnessing horses, Yaktin was hired by a white-haired trainer named Buffert, who left Arizona in pursuit of his own dream. When Buffert switched to thoroughbreds in 1988, Yaktin stayed with him.

A few years later, Yaktin was in the racing office in Santa Anita when he crossed paths with Hall of Fame coach Charlie Whittingham, who said goodbye.

“I said, ‘Wow, Dad talked to me,'” Yaktin said. “The timing was perfect.”

He joined the Whittingham stable as an assistant. In 1994, Yaktin was in his first Kentucky derby, helping second-placed Strode’s Creek.

Two years later, he and Whittingham returned with the Derby runner. At the same time, Buffert finished second with Cavonier in his first derby.

In 1997, Yaktin returned to Baffert’s barn, and for the next seven years he was part of a team that worked alongside the winners of the Kentucky derby, Silver Charm and Real Quiet and the 2001 Derby champion War Emblem.

Learning the patience and ability to read the subtle signs of the horse in Buffert and Whittingham, Yaktin opened his own stable in 2004.

By that time he had married Millie Ball, a Buffert racer. She is now the presenter and reporter of the XBTV digital jumping network.

Yaktin said the couple’s two sons, 16-year-old Sam and 14-year-old Ben, would be at home “inflated” about the Derby pass because of school.

What happens after the Derby is in the air.

Yaktin said it was not discussed whether Monsieur and Taiba would remain in his barn. Buffert’s dismissal is valid until July 2, not allowing him to participate in Preakness on May 21 and Belmont on June 11.

“I keep my fists up that if we have a successful campaign, it will be a real opportunity,” Yaktin said.

At 57, Yaktin knows what a huge chance a coach faces to get one horse on a Kentucky derby. And he has two.

“It’s like a lottery ticket falling to its knees,” he said. “Now we’re trying to get the money.”

Other AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

https://wgnradio.com/sports/tim-yakteen-brings-2-top-horses-to-1st-ky-derby-in-charge/

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