`Silver' raises Belmont stakes

Baffert: Filly will run final Triple Crown leg

May 27, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Silverbulletday, the country's top 3-year-old filly, will challenge the top 3-year-old colts -- including Triple Crown hopeful Charismatic -- June 5 in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, trainer Bob Baffert said.

By frequently changing his mind and misleading reporters about plans for his horses, Baffert has become one of racing's least reliable sources of information. But this time he seems definite about plans for Silverbulletday.

"We're in. Jerry Bailey's riding. Mark it down," Baffert told the Daily Racing Form.

Baffert's declaration came late Tuesday afternoon, a couple of hours after telling reporters during a national teleconference call that he would not decide until early next week.

Tuesday morning, Silverbulletday breezed six furlongs (three quarters of a mile) at Churchill Downs in a sensational 1 minute, 10 4/5 seconds. Early Tuesday afternoon, Baffert participated in the teleconference call. Late Tuesday afternoon, he took Silverbulletday for a walk, and she was bucking and playful.

At that point, he told a reporter for the Blood-Horse magazine: "Bob Lewis said, `Let's make this the best Belmont ever.' So why not go ahead and run her against Charismatic?"

Lewis owns Charismatic, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and will seek to become the 12th horse to win the Belmont as well. Lewis also owns the Baffert-trained Silver Charm, who failed in his Triple Crown attempt two years ago.

Lewis said during that same Tuesday teleconference that he wants anyone who thinks he has a Belmont-quality 3-year-old to enter it in the race. Lewis said he doesn't want to wake up the day after the Belmont and read that trainers and owners of would-be contenders are bellyaching about not challenging his horse.

Silverbulletday would become the 21st filly to run in 131 Belmonts. Two have won, but none since Tanya in 1905. Ruthless won the inaugural running in 1867.

Baffert has said he would not run Silverbulletday against males in a race farther than 1 1/8 miles. The Belmont is 1 1/2 miles, the longest of the Triple Crown races. Before the Kentucky Derby, he said he was concerned about that race's 1 1/4 miles for his filly.

Asked about that comment during the teleconference, Baffert told reporters: "The reason I said that was so people would leave me alone. It was mainly to get you guys off my back."

As of yesterday, 3-year-olds considered set for the Belmont, besides Charismatic and Silverbulletday, are Adonis, Best of Luck, Lemon Drop Kid, Menifee, Pineoff, Port Bayou, Prime Directive, Stephen Got Even and Vision and Verse.

Listed as possible are Lead Em Home, Patience Game, The Groom is Red and Walk That Walk.

The Belmont is limited to 16 starters. The most in a field for one of 14 unsuccessful Triple Crown bids was 13 in 1971, when Canonero II finished fourth. The biggest field for one of the successful Triple Crown bids was seven, three times.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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