By Dick Downey
Bob Baffert has come within a jump of winning the Triple Crown twice, and he offered his take on California Chrome's chances.
Baffert had heartbreaking losses with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. He had a third attempt in 2002 with War Emblem, but the colt stumbled out of the gate and went to his knees.
And that is the key, Baffert said. The start of the Belmont will determine whether California Chrome wins.
“The break is the key to the whole race,” Baffert said. “A clean break and it’s over. That’s it. With a clean break, he’s way better than all the other horses.”
Baffert has been high on California Chrome since the Santa Anita Derby.
“He looked so good winning that race,” Baffert said. “All his races here have been just phenomenal. You have to put aside that he’s a Cal-bred and not sired by a major stallion.
“I think he’s a great horse. It doesn’t matter if there are 14 or six horses. He needs to break clean. Once he breaks clean, then you could run 20 horses there, he’s going to be in front of them all, so he’s not going to have any problem.
“He’ll lead them all the way around there,” Baffert concluded.