Baf­fert again the trainer to beat at Churchill Downs

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Player Profile - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

It’s the first Saturday in May and Bob Baf­fert again has mul­ti­ple con­tenders in a ma­jor stakes race.

So what else is new?

In­deed, as the horses en­ter the gate at Churchill Downs in Louisville for the 145th run­ning of the Ken­tucky Derby Saturday, May 4, on ABC, the white-haired trainer from No­gales, Ariz., who has sad­dled nu­mer­ous Triple Crown Thor­ough­breds in his half-cen­tury in rac­ing could have as many as four in this race: Im­prob­a­ble, Game Win­ner, Road­ster and Mu­cho Gusto. And those in the know will tell you no one is bet­ter at get­ting a ta­lented 3-year-old to peak at the op­ti­mal time than Baf­fert.

Of course, this is all well-trod ground for the 66-year-old. He’s been bring­ing horses to the three races that make up the Triple Crown – the Derby, Preak­ness and Bel­mont Stakes – since 1996 and has 15 wins to show for it, in­clud­ing three each for his two Triple Crown cham­pi­ons Amer­i­can Pharoah (2015) and Jus­tify (2018). Those are pretty im­pres­sive ac­com­plish­ments in an era that didn’t have a Triple Crown champ for 37 years.

This year, Im­prob­a­ble, Game Win­ner and Richard Man­della’s Omaha Beach (at this writ­ing) are con­sid­ered the three horses with the most Triple Crown po­ten­tial. But when a horse is faced with a field of 20 (such as in the Derby), a short lay­off (the Preak­ness) and a 1 1/2 mile dis­tance (the Bel­mont) over a five­week sched­ule – and con­tend with fresh horses in the last two races – those ex­pec­ta­tions can evap­o­rate in a hurry.

Which is why the Triple Crown is con­sid­ered by some to be the most gru­el­ing gaunt­let in all of sports.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.