Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Third Jewel: Leading a Charmed Lifeso Far Triple Crown Hopeful Has the Common Touch

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Third Jewel: Leading a Charmed Lifeso Far Triple Crown Hopeful Has the Common Touch

Article excerpt

In seeking to describe Silver Charm, which makes a run at horse racing's Triple Crown today at the Belmont Stakes, trainer Bob Baffert goes to two extremes.

"He's got humble beginnings and he's taking on the blue bloods," Baffert said. "He's an average guy who has made it to the top. America loves that."

But while Silver Charm's pedigree may be decidedly average, when Baffert thinks about Silver Charm as a competitor, the comparison he makes is to no average guy. "He's got that look that Michael Jordan had when he hit the game-winning shot the other night," Baffert said. That's Silver Charm, a combination of Ordinary Joe and Air Jordan, a horse that has survived two thrilling stretch runs to get where he is today, just a mile and a half away from joining the most select group of horses in thoroughbred racing. With a win today in the Belmont (post time 4:30 p.m. on KDNL, Channel 30), Silver Charm would become just the 12th horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Silver Charm would earn not only the $432,000 winner's share of the Belmont purse, but would also earn a $5 million bonus from Visa for winning the Triple Crown. That would push Silver Charm's 1997 earnings near $7 million and give him the single-season record for earnings, surpassing the $4.9 million that Cigar won last year. With a loss, Silver Charm would be the 13th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown and lose in the Belmont. No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed, ridden by Steve Caut hen, did it in 1978. Only a few horses since then have been in position to do it: Spectacular Bid won the first two races but ran third in 1979; Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer twice by narrow margins but lost the Belmont to Easy Goer by eight lengths in '89. Silver Charm is only a couple of feet away from being just another good horse that came close. …

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