Gary Stevens is doing something he’s never done before in his Hall of Fame riding career - guaranteeing a horse will win a race.
The horse is Silver Charm. The race is the Belmont Stakes. The prize is the Triple Crown.
“If what Bob Baffert told me is true, I guarantee a victory,” Stevens, who began his career in Boise, told reporters on Wednesday.
What the trainer told Stevens was that the gray colt is better for the 1-1/2-mile Belmont on Saturday than he was for his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Baffert and Stevens, of course, understand there is no such thing as a sure thing in horse racing.
“There isn’t going to be any complaining or crying if we lose,” Baffert said after flying to New York with Silver Charm from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., where the gray colt has been training since the Preakness.
“I have put the horse in position to win, that’s all I can do as a trainer,” Baffert continued. “He’s in position, and now it’s up to the racing gods.”
The gods have been good to Silver Charm. Just before starting a workout Tuesday, he almost was run into by a horse spooked by a crowd cheering Silver Charm.
If the gods smile on Silver Charm Saturday, he would become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978. The colt, owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, also would earn a $5-million bonus offered by Visa, sponsor of the series.
Six other 3-year-olds are expected to oppose Silver Charm. Entries will be drawn today.
“I don’t worry about the competition,” Baffert said. “I worry about my horse. If I don’t have him ready, it doesn’t matter who he’s running against.”
Of Silver Charm’s rivals, Baffert said, “Free House is the horse to beat, I think. He’s in our face every time.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Belmont on TV The Belmont Stakes will be televised Saturday on ABC at 1 p.m.