LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After years of putting his foot in his mouth, Bob Baffert has come up with something he likes to call "The 10 Minute Rule."
He'll talk to the media about whatever they want, but only for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, he says, he tends to say stuff he later tends to regret. So when reporters gathered around his barn Thursday morning to get his thoughts on the horses entered in this year's Kentucky Derby, including his own horse, Midnight Interlude, he playfully checked his watch every few minutes.
"When I first came here, I felt like I had to talk to everybody and give them good stuff," Baffert said. "But my wife taught me that when I talk to much, after 10 minutes, I start babbling, and that's when I get myself in trouble."
But Baffert still couldn't resist saying a few things people may deem controversial, including that he isn't quite buying the mysterious gastrointestinal illness that has supposedly stricken Uncle Mo in recent weeks. Uncle Mo, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt who was an undefeated juvenile champion, is still not guaranteed to run Saturday.
"Uncle Mo looks fantastic out there to me," Baffert said. "He's the best horse in the race. I don't care what rumors you hear. You can't throw him out. He's looked great to me. Everyone is talking about him being 50/50. I think [owner Mike Repole] is just trying to build a price for himself because it sounds like he likes to gamble. He's going to be dangerous. I don't think it's some [gastrointestinal issue], I think he just got tired at the Wood [Memorial]. From what I've seen visually, there is nothing there that tells me the horse isn't ready to run. I'm not buying that crap. He's just trying to steal this race."
As for his own horse, Baffert isn't saying much. Midnight Interlude won the Santa Anita Derby in April, but he was virtually unknown prior to that victory and it didn't exactly come against the strongest field. Baffert, though, has played just about every role at the Derby over the years. Last year he had the favorite with Lookin At Lucky, and this year he'll have a long shot. It's all part of the game.
"It's all the same to me," Baffert said. "I've been coming here so many times. I know what to expect."