(Gamine winning the G1 Acorn Stakes, in a breeze. Will the connections run her against the colts? / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

When the year started out, and there was no COVID-19 to worry about or detour on the way to the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, super trainer Bob Baffert looked to be holding a winning hand.

He had a potential star in Thousand Words.

He had an authentic star in Authentic.

He had an emerging superstar in Nadal.

He had an even better shooting star in Charlatan.

How many trainers could boost such a claim? How many barns could hold such a calvary of chargers? How many super trainers could have that many potential super horses?

Answer is simple.

None. Zero. Nada.

Outside of Bob Baffert? Zip.

But as this Triple Crown Trail has dipped and doodled, bent and banged, changed and chased — including the first time in history where the G1 Belmont Stakes became the first leg of the Series — the wear and tear has taken a toil on both horse and human.

Thousand Words has been found wanting, and wavering. At least, for now.

Nadal has been found injured and now removed from training forever. Gone too soon.

Charlatan has been found with a aching ankle that has temporarily sidelined both hope and immediate plans. Can’t wait to get him back.

And, Authentic — having run 2nd to the emerging Honor A.P. — has been found now as a well-beaten runner-up with strides now to be made to keep up. And, in our opinion, he will find the strides. He will make up the ground. He will be salty on the First Saturday in September.

Such is life in the horse business. Such is a world of significant ups and the downs.

So, what has Team Baffert done?

The answer is simple, too.

He has reloaded.

There is Authentic — who still may be the most authentic 3YO in this whole group.

There is the wonder gal, Gamine — who may be the best filly since Winning Colors and may be able to run anyone into the ground at any time.

There is Uncle Chuck — who just whipped Thousand Words in the Los Alamitos Derby and has suddenly stamped himself a legit candidate to move forward in the upcoming Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

And, there is this horse named Cezanne — a son of Curlin and yet another potential emerging super star with unlimited potential.

How many trainers could boost such a claim? How many barns could hold such a calvary of chargers? How many super trainers could have that many potential super horses?

Again?

In the same year?

In the same KY Derby test?

What if the original group had stuck tougher to join the second group? Anybody ever imagine one trainer having 7 potential Derby contenders in the same year?

Seven?

Most of us go a lifetime looking, hunting, searching, hoping, praying for one. Just one.

In one year, Baffert has had 7?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

There is no one other than Baffert who could muster that many potential Derby Day runners.

None. Zero. Nada. Zip.

Hard to just fathom, really.

Yet, it is hard to beat Bob Baffert when it comes to Kentucky Derbies, these days.

Here’s our glimpse at our Top 20 contenders, after this week’s G3 Indiana Derby and the G2 Blue Grass Stakes:

 

Horse Sire Trainer Jockey Last Race Next Race Comments
1 Gamine Into Mischief Bob Baffert John Velazquez 1st in the G1 Acorn Stakes TBD Will She Go in KY Derby? Probably Not, But Still Could Be Best 3YO
2 Honor A.P. Honor Code John Sherriffs Mike Smith 1st in G1 Santa Anita Derby Shared Belief Stakes — Del Mar on Aug. 1 Awesome in SA Derby / Can He Move Forward?
3 Authentic Into Mischief Bob Baffert Drayden Van Dyke 2nd in the G1 Santa Anita Derby G1 Haskell Invitational — MON on July 18 I Expect Huge Move Forward at Monmouth Park
4 Tiz the Law Constitution Barclay Tagg Manny Franco 1st in G1 Belmont Stakes G1 Travers Stakes — SAR on Aug. 8 Some Have Already Given the 2020 Derby to This One / I Have Not
5 Art Collector Bernardini Tom Drury Brian Hernandez, Jr. 1st in G2 Blue Grass Stakes TBD How Do You Not Root For This Team? / KY’s Team
6 King Guillermo Uncle Mo Juan Avila Sammy Camacho 2nd in G1 Arkansas Derby (2) G1 KY Derby — CD on Setp. 5 Will Train Up to the KY Derby / Wise Strategy? / This Year, Why Not?
7 Max Player Honor Code Linda Rice Joel Rosario 3rd in G1 Belmont Stakes G1 Travers Stakes — SAR on Aug. 8 Will Be Interesting To See Where This One Goes Next / Rising Star?
8 Ny Traffic Cross Traffic S. Joseph, Jr. Paco Lopez 2nd in G3 Matt Winn Stakes G1 Haskell Stakes — MON on July 18
9 Dr Post Quality Road Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr. 2nd in G1 Belmont Stakes G1 Haskell Invitational — MON on July 18 Developing Quickly for Top Trainer / Must Repect Going Forward
10 Field Pass Lemon Drop Kid Mike Maker Tyler Gaffalione 1st in G3 Transylvania Stakes G2 National Museum of Hall of Fame on July 18 Has Won Stakes on Poly & Grass / Dirt?
11 Uncle Chuck Uncle Mo Bob Baffert Luis Saez 1st in G3 Los Alamitos Derby Shared Belief Stakes — Del Mar on Aug. 1 Whipped Stablemate Thousand Words by 4 Easy Lengths / Next?
12 Dean Martini Cairo Prince Tom Amoss Ricardo Mejias 1st in the G3 Ohio Derby TBD Former Claimer Showed Guts in Ohio / Now Must Prove “Class”
13 Cezanne Curlin Bob Baffert Favien Prat 1st in LA Alowance Shared Belief or G1 Travers Stakes Another From the Talented Barn of Team Baffert / Coming On
13 Ete Indien Summer Front Patrick Biancone Florent Geroux 4th in GP Allowance G1 Haskell Invitational — MON on July 18 I Have Serious Questions Here / Must Answer the Bell Next Time Out
14 Sole Volante Karakontie Patrick Biancone Florent Geroux 6th in G1 Belmont Stakes TBD Questions Abound Here, Too? / Going Great Into Belmont / What?
15 Storm The Court Court Vision Peter Eurton Flavien Prat 3rd in the G3 Ohio Derby TBD Appears That He Will Never Recapture 2YO Glory
16 Major Fed Ghostzapper Greg Foley James Graham 2nd in the G3 Indiana Derby Ellis Park Derby at Ellis Park on Aug. 9 This One Is Bound To Get a Clean Trip One Of These Days
17 Pneumatic Uncle Mo Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana, Jr. 4th in G1 Belmont Stakes TBD Must Improve to Give Top 5 Trouble / But Capable of Improving Fast
18 Modernist Uncle Mo Bill Mott Junior Alvarado 7th in G1 Belmont Stakes Peter Pan Stakes at Sar on July 16 Very Disappointing Run in G1 Belmont Stakes; Very Disappointing
19 Creed Honor Code Shug McGaughey Jose Ortiz 1st in BEL Allowance SAR Allowance or G1 Travers HOF Trainer is the Best in the Business / The Best
20 Shared Sense Street Sense Brad Cox Florent Geroux 1st in G3 Indiana Derby TBD Huge Win in Indy / Must Step Up to Face the “Big Boys” Soon