NYT: But the tracks share two things: a passion for fast horses and the thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert.

It was at Rillito Park, a dusty old track considered the birthplace of modern quarter-horse racing, that Baffert began his career, first as a “second-rate jockey” (his words) and later as a trainer. At the World Cup in Dubai, Baffert — a 64-year-old Hall of Fame trainer with more than 2,700 victories, including two in the World Cup as well as the sweep of the Triple Crown two years ago with American Pharoah — will saddle Arrogate, the overwhelming favorite.

How Baffert got from this little track on the grits-and-hard-toast circuit to some of the world’s richest races has a lot to do with hard work and failure.

Rillito Park “was the big time for me,” he said. “I first went there when I was 10 years old to run a few horses with my dad. He trained a few as a hobby, but mostly we were there to listen to the old-timers tell stories. I thought that if someday I could make it there, I’d be set for life.”