LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The perks for training a Triple Crown winner have a long shelf life, especially in Derby city.
Bob Baffert accompanied his wife, Jill, this week as she shopped for a dress to wear to Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, where looking fashionable may be even more important than picking the winner.
“The guy told Jill, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can have it ready by Friday,’ ” Baffert said. “Then he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, American Pharoah. Yeah, we can have it ready by Friday.’ ”
Baffert was Mr. Media at last year’s Derby, when besides the favored Pharoah he ran the undefeated Dortmund, who finished third. This time he’s sending out only one, Mor Spirit, who is 12-1 in the morning line. He was hopeful he would have one or two others to chase his fifth Derby trophy.
“It’s so difficult to have a Derby horse,’’ Baffert said. “Last fall I thought I might have four or five. It’s like ‘The Hunger Games’. You’re just trying to survive.’’
Baffert believes NBC’s television ratings will rise because people are looking for another potential Triple Crown winner. “I think a lot more people will be watching the Derby this year,’’ he said. “And whoever wins it, they’ll all be watching him in the Preakness.’’
Baffert can’t go anywhere without being recognized and approached by fans. “It’s all about autographs and photographs,’’ he said. “That’s my life right now.’’
Significant gray area
Many racing newbies bet gray horses in the Derby because they’re easier to spot. It could get confusing Saturday because five grays are entered — Mohaymen, Destin, Mor Spirit, Creator and Lani.
Kentuckians leave out “to the” when asking if you’ll be at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The eternal question: “Are you going Derby?”