Bob Baffert has trained some of the best horses in racing history, including Silver Charm, War Emblem and Point Given. If all of his horses squared off in their prime, though, Baffert knows hands down which one would win.
“Oh, American Pharoah would’ve creamed them all,” the Hall of Fame trainer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Creamed them. He’s so much better. The one who would’ve given him a run was Point Given, who did not win the Derby. He was always my best horse. It would have been a good race. He won the Preakness and Belmont (in 2001).”
American Pharoah, of course, won the Triple Crown last year, becoming just the fourth horse to do so since 1948 and the first horse to do so since Affirmed in 1978.
“It seemed like it went by so fast,” Baffert said of Pharoah’s magical run. “It was so enjoyable. We were dealing with a horse that almost had supernatural powers and made my job so much easier. Once we won the Derby, I was so relieved, I was so happy – because the Kentucky Derby is the best one. It’s my favorite. So now going into this year, we have a little bit of an American Pharoah hangover from last year, but it all starts new. Whoever gets crowned on Saturday, then we follow that show again. So hopefully it’ll be us.”
Baffert’s horse, Mor Spirit, is a 12-1 favorite entering the Derby and will need some tactical speed to outlast Exaggerator (8-1) and Nyquist (3-1), among others.
“It’s very important,” Baffert said of situational speed. “Nyquist is going to be in the lead or close to it. When you have 20 horses, the horses that have technical speed, it’s a big advantage because they’re not going to be in traffic. They’re going to be out of the way. The horses that come from behind, they have to do a lot of maneuvering. They get back there, they’re getting a lot of dirt in their face, horses are stopping, you start making your move, there will be horses getting tired. For some reason, the Kentucky Derby horses, by the time you get to the half-mile pole, three-eights, they’re already tired. These are horses that are fit, but they’re tired, they stop running, the adrenaline gets to them, they fall apart – so you can’t get stopped. You can’t have a horse stop in front of you. It’s crazy. Around the first turn, a lot of stuff goes, but the first 200 yards is like the start of the Indy 500. There’s a lot of stuff that can go bad on you right at the beginning.”
Mor Spirit isn’t on the same level as American Pharoah, but then again, no horse is.
“That horse, to do what he did – hopefully his offspring, maybe one or two will be as good as him,” Baffert said. “Secretariat never reproduced himself, so it is a crapshoot if they’ll do it or not. But hopefully he’ll keep it going. We’re still on the Pharoah tour. We’re still living the dream. We went and saw him the other day. He looked terrific. He’s still the sweet, kind horse that he’s always been. He hasn’t changed at all.”
While Mor Spirit isn’t the favorite this weekend, Baffert believes he has a chance to win the Derby.
“I think we’re going to be right there,” he said. “I think Exaggerator and Nyquist, those are the horses to be, and then rest of it, it’s a toss-up. It’s pretty wide open, really. It’s wide open.”