In the days leading up to Saturday’s 145th Preakness, usracing.com will be publishing profiles of the 11 horses entered in 2020’s final leg of the Triple Crown.
By Ed McNamara
His misbehavior in the Kentucky Derby paddock began the most bizarre 30 minutes of Bob Baffert’s career. When Thousand Words flipped while being saddled, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes suffered a fractured wrist. He was watching on his cellphone in an ambulance as Authentic gave Baffert his record-tying sixth Derby victory.
Winning Triple Crown events is old hat for Baffert, but the jittery colt’s forced withdrawal was a first.
“I’ve run thousands and thousands of quarter horses and thoroughbreds and never had one scratch in the paddock,” he said.
Fortunately, Thousand Words was unhurt and has been training well since, but how good is he? He jumped back onto the Derby trail with his front-running upset of Honor A.P. in the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief, but he’s 0-for-2 at 1 1/8 miles. I won’t be betting on him, but always beware of “the other Baffert” in any race.
RELATED: Preakness Stakes Horse: Max Player
Post position: No. 5
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Albaugh Family Stables LLC, Spendthrift Farm LLC
Career record: 7-4-1-0
Career earnings: $327,000
Top Equibase speed figure: 107
Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Pomeroys By Pistol-Pomeroy
Running style: Front-runner/stalker
Notes: Although Thousand Words is winless beyond 1 1/16 miles, Baffert thinks the Preakness’ 1 3/16 miles won’t be too far. “He’s just a steady kind of horse,” he said. “Distance is his friend.” Doubting the opinion of someone who’s won a record-tying seven Preaknesses isn’t wise, and remember there were stamina questions about Authentic before he wired the Derby.
|2||Mr. Big News||Gabriel Saez||12-1|
|3||Art Collector||Brian Hernandez Jr.||5-2|
|4||Swiss Skydiver||Robby Albarado||6-1|
|5||Thousand Words||Florent Geroux||6-1|
|6||Jesus’ Team||Jevian Toledo||30-1|
|7||NY Traffic||Horacio Karamanos||15-1|
|8||Max Player||Paco Lopez||15-1|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.