It's triple the anticipation for Desormeaux

The anticipation, understandably, is already overwhelming for jockey Kent Desormeaux, who's on the verge of accomplishing something that hasn't been done in 30 years and that's winning horse racing's Triple Crown.

After riding Big Brown to dominant wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Desormeaux will have to wait until June 7 to go after the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes. if Desormeaux can ride Big Brown to the win at Belmont, the horse would become the first since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.

"it's going to be like a century,' said Desormeaux, who attended the grand opening for Bodine's Casino in South Carson City on Tuesday.

"It's going to be the longest time of my life. The reality is my life is already changed. It's changed for the better."

Desormeaux has been in this situation before. In 1998, he rode Real Quiet to wins in the Derby and Preakness only to lose the Belmont - and the Triple Crown - by a nose to Victory Gallop. Real Quiet was trained by Bob Baffert, who also attended Tuesday's grand opening.

Baffert is this generation's most accomplished trainer and among others who attended the grand opening was Laffit Pincay Jr., one of the greatest jockeys in history. A big reason why Tuesday's event drew several of the all-time greats in horse racing was one of Bodine's part-owners, Mike Pegram.

Baffert said when Pegram asks for a favor "people will do it for him" because he's such a genuine person. Baffert also basically credited his career to Pegram. "He is a big part of my success," Baffert said. "He is my biggest booster and my biggest fan."

Desormeaux said there's not much he can do between now and June 7. "I can only pray for Big Brown's health," he said. "The next three weeks I can only pray for Big Brown's health.

"If Big Brown's healthy it will be Big Brown's race to lose. The horse has been perfectly trained."

Pincay and Baffert both agreed with Desormeaux's analysis. "Kent is a great rider and the horse is a great horse," Pincay said. "If everything goes well he's going to win easily."

Baffert has also had his share of close calls when it comes to the Triple Crown. "I had three shots at it," he said. "I didn't get it done. I had a little bad luck."

But Baffert said if Big Brown is a great horse, he'll win the Triple Crown. "I really think the great horses will get it done," he said. "If he's a great horse, he'll get it done."

And Baffert likes Big Brown's chances. "The horse is a super horse," he said. "He just comes from a different cloth."

Baffert said it's difficult for horse racing to regain the popularity it once had because of how the landscape of sports has changed. "Horse racing has to compete with all these different sports now," he said.

But Desormeaux, Pincay and Baffert all agreed that horse racing would benefit if Big Brown wins the Triple Crown. "I think Big Brown is going to be a huge boost to racing," Baffert said.

"I'm hoping he wins, it's good for racing," said the now-retired Pincay, who won 9,530 races in his career.

There's nothing more I want to do than promoted the sport," Desormeaux said. "I'm the luckiest man on the earth. I'm the most blessed being. I'm the happiest guy on the earth."

Another factor in keeping the sport popular is keeping the horses healthy, but Baffert isn't a big proponent of synthetic turf surfaces, which are becoming more prominent across the country. "Synthetic is all right," Baffert said. "I don't think that's going to be the answer."

Baffert noted that horses still become hurt on synthetic tracks. He did say synthetic tracks are good for training and in inclimate weather. "It's a bad weather surface," he said.

Baffert admitted it was awkward for him this year because he wasn't at the Derby for the first time since 1995. But he said he'll likely continue to train thoroughbreds "until I'm face down in one of those horse buckets. I love it."

He also said because of the inclimate weather here and the hot weather in Las Vegas, it would be difficult for a horse racing track to operate in Nevada.

"It would work in Las Vegas maybe," Baffert said. But the heat would be too hard on horses, so the track would have to be indoors, he said.

Baffert, who began training quarter horses, said it was Secretariat's run to the Triple Crown in 1973 that got him interested in horse racing. "Until then, I never even watched a thoroughbred race," he said.


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