I’m an avid University of Arizona basketball fan and was at a game the other week with my friend Jimmy Patterson. At one point during the game, Jimmy pointed to a fellow walking on the floor. “There’s Bob Baffert,” he said.
I immediately took interest. I respect any master horseman and Baffert’s success in horse racing is unmatched, if not legendary. I knew Baffert had been raised in Arizona, but I was surprised to see him at a game.
Afterward, Jimmy and I went to a local burger joint to celebrate our victory. Who should walk in but Bob Baffert and his look-alike, who was presumably his brother. Jimmy, having never met a stranger in his life, got up and went over to talk to them. I’m a bit embarrassed about approaching strangers so stayed at our table. After smiles and talk, Jimmy waved me over. Introductions were made all around.
“Did you know Bob is one of our fraternity brothers?” Jimmy asked me. I had no idea that Baffert was an SAE. And, as it turned out, Baffert had no idea that I was from Duncan, Arizona. He volunteered that when he had been a jockey, he had ridden a couple of races in Duncan at the county fair. I was overwhelmed by that factoid. Bob is arguably at the top of his profession and Duncan County fair races are arguably at the bottom of horse racing. You have to admire someone who has risen from the bottom to the top of any profession.
Later as I ruminated on the surprising connections between Bob Baffert and myself, I realized that I knew someone else who had risen from the dusts of Duncan to the top of her profession. And then it struck me. Maybe we need more folks to pass through Duncan, Arizona, population 200.