Top 4 Baffert Runners That Should Have Won the Crown

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D.S. Williamson

December 28th, 2018

Bob Baffert's top 3-year-old, soon to be 4-year-old, in training dominated his competition in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Santa Anita's Opening Day. McKinzie looked unbeatable when he took down a solid field of runners. He should challenge Accelerate in the Pegasus World Cup if Bob decides to run him. McKinzie's 3-year-old season, even with the Malibu victory was disappointing, though. He didn't run in a single Triple Crown race, and failed big time in the BC Classic.

While McKinzie had no shot of showing his best in the Derby, Preakness, or Belmont, the following four Baffert runners did. In fact, all four probably should have taken the Crown before American Pharoah and Justify.

Bob Baffert Runners That Should Have Won the Triple Crown

1. Point Given

Outside of American Pharoah, Point Given might be the best 3-year-old Bob Baffert's ever trained. Sired by Thunder Gulch and from Turko's Turn, a Turkoman broodmare, Point Given had only a single blemish on an unreal 2001, 3-year-old year.

That single blemish, a 5th in the Kentucky Derby, prevented Point Given from winning the Triple Crown. The horse didn't care at all that he failed at Churchill Downs, winning the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, and Travers after the Derby run. He won the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe before the Run for the Roses.

2. Silver Charm

Baffert's first true 3-year-old star had lost the Santa Anita Derby to rival Free House in his final prep. He was sensational in the Derby, beating Pulpit, Free House, and the tough Captain Bodgit. In the Preakness, he won a 3-horse bobbing heads photo over Free House and Captain Bodgit.

Alas, the Belmont curse bit Silver Charm as, after putting away Free House, he failed to notice Touch Gold until it was too late. Nobody could ever doubt this horse's heart. He won the Dubai World Cup and finished second in the Malibu and Breeders' Cup Classic.

3. Real Quiet

A year later, Gary Stevens, Silver Charm's jockey, denied Bob the Triple Crown by getting his nose in front of Real Quiet aboard Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes. The great Alex Solis had to take Victory Gallop wide in the Derby while Kent Desormeaux aboard Real Quiet made the bold move around the turn. Real Quiet wasn't even Bob Baffert's most highly touted 3-year-old in 1998. That horse, Indian Charlie, was 4-0 heading to Kentucky.

Indian Charlie retired after the Derby while Real Quiet would go on to win the Grade 1 Pimlico Special over Free House, and the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup over one of the greatest claiming horses in history, Budroyale.

4. War Emblem

It took all of Bob Baffert's training skills to get War Emblem to Kentucky for the Derby. The horse had finished 5th in the LeComte Stakes and 6th in the Risen Star. The Thoroughbred Corporation purchased War Emblem after he beat the highly-regarded Repent in the Illinois Derby, back then a Derby prep.

Baffert had only 3 weeks to work with War Emblem. He did enough to get the horse into the Derby winner's circle. It helped that Baffert put Victor Espinoza onto the horse. War Emblem was Baffert and Espinoza's first Triple Crown race winning collaboration.

After winning the Preakness, War Emblem almost fell to his knees out of the gate in the Belmont. That threw him off at Big Sandy. He didn't recover and finished out of the money. The Belmont winner that year, Sarava, paid $142.50 to win. Sarava ended up in Bob Baffert's barn, but even Bob couldn't get the horse to win another race.