The Next Big One?


With two legs of the Triple Crown in the books, the chatter is in full-swing about the next name to be etched in the history books. – Is Justify the horse hailed as the next “big one?” – He broke apart the “Curse of Apollo” and even overcame the video where he looked sore the day after the Derby. – Bob Baffert looks calm and cool. Maybe because he’s been here before, or maybe it’s because he’s just that good. – The talk will continue right up until they load in the starting gate at Belmont

When the Derby trail began he wasn’t even on the scene. Matter of fact he hadn’t even raced. But that didn’t deter the connections as they liked what they saw. – I can remember watching the Santa Anita Derby talking on the phone with my dad. As we yacked, I could see there was something big happening that caught my eye. – ” Hey, Dad. You may want to watch this horse. He has something special.” Maybe it was his stride, his gleam or the way he carried himself. But he caught my eye that day. He needed the points to make the starting gate and running 2nd wasn’t going to cut it. – As he dismantled Bolt D’ Oro, he stamped his ticket that day.

As 52-yr-old Mike Smith looked 21 in the saddle on Derby day, he seemed to communicate with Justify. – He’s had plenty of great runners and this was just the latest. But could it be one of his special runners? – Smith keeps himself in shape and humbles himself to God after each win. – I guess there’s a message for the non-believers in Justify. It’s not luck, it’s all about preparation and thanking a higher power for an equine gift as Justify.

Baffert used to be the clown in years gone by. – I watched him toss the flowers into the crowd and hold the trophy on his head as a hat. – No more. – He’s now one of the best who’s ever led a horse to the track. I guess elder statesman could be used, but he may lay a little “California Cool” on you and show he’s still that young gun. – Bob Baffert is timeless. When he ran into his heart problems, he seemed to recover and enjoy every second. His family, his life, and love of horses. – Where he used to have that cocky wry smile, has now been replaced by a voice that sometimes cracks with emotion when asked the media questions. – That’s the mark of a maturing trainer. If he were a bourbon he’d be aged and smooth.

We are seeing something special. Two men at the top of their game aging gracefully. A colt who has come around just at the right time. – Some would call it the perfect storm, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see until they break from the gate at “Big Sandy.” I’m on board and for the first time in years, it’s not about making the big score. It’s about beauty and pageantry. Watching as a longtime fan as an event that may not come around for quite awhile. – Good luck, Justify. We’ll be rooting from this side of the TV screen.