Baffert Goes for Triple Crown for Fourth Time With American Pharoah

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been down this road before, heading to Belmont Park with a chance of saddling a Triple Crown winner, with American Pharoah perhaps his best chance, currently the 5-6 betting favorite for the Belmont Stakes.

Baffert’s first bid for the Triple Crown came with Silver Charm in 1997. The colt won the Kentucky Derby by a hard fought head over Captain Bodgit with Free House third.

The trio met up again in Baltimore at the Preakness Stakes and were separated by heads, with Silver Charm getting his in front at the wire with Free House second and Captain Bodgit third.

After earning back-to-back career top speed figs, the two races may have taken a little something out of him, as he had to settle for second in the Belmont Stakes, beaten three-quarters of a length by Touch Gold.

Baffert was back the next year with Real Quiet, who followed up his runner up finish in the Santa Anita Derby with a win in the Run for the Roses at betting odds of 8-1. He came right back to win the Preakness Stakes at 5-2 and headed to New York with a shot at the Triple Crown.

With one furlong to go in the stretch at Belmont Park Real Quiet had a four-length lead and looked headed to victory. However, there was a late charge by Victory Gallop and jockey Gary Stevens, who snatched away victory in the last jump by a nose.

Four years later Baffert pulled off the upset in the Kentucky Derby with War Emblem, who took the field gate to wire to win at odds of 20-1.

The colt was sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the Preakness Stakes and after battling for the early lead with longshot Menacing Dennis he put that foe away and won by three-quarters of a length over the late running longshot Magic Weisner.

That gave Baffert his third chance at a Triple Crown in just six years, but it was not meant to be. The colt stumbled badly coming out of the gate, bumped a foe, and never ran his race, checking in a disappointing eighth as the 7-5 betting favorite.

Now Baffert gets a fourth try 13 years later, and there is no doubt American Pharoah is going to be sent off at a short price.

While he is going to be the deserving favorite, we have seen plenty of Belmont Stakes favorites get beaten. In fact, just five betting favorites have succeeded in the past three decades in the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

We have to go back to Afleet Alex in 2005 to find the last Belmont Stakes winner that raced in the Preakness Stakes. Four since then ran in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness.

There will be as many as six foes standing in American Pharoah’s way that raced in the Derby and skipped the Preakness including the second and third choices.

Frosted, who was fourth in the Derby, is currently the second choice in early Belmont Stakes betting at 5-1 while Materiality, who was a troubled sixth in the Derby, is the third choice at 7-1.

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