Baffert: Baze was Riding to 'Save His Life'

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert said that Indian Express appeared to come out of his rugged Kentucky Derby journey well and would consider a run in the Preakness for the colt.

The son of Indian Charlie survived what was probably the roughest trip by any of the 16 Derby horses when he missed the break and got off a step slowly under his rookie Kentucky Derby rider, 20-year-old Tyler Baze.

The speedy colt was rank and steadied repeatedly by Baze, searching for room behind horses in the run to the first turn. He advanced to sixth at one point, but faded to 14th - a finish that matched the worst by a Baffert-trained horse in the "Run for the Roses."

"I feel cheated," exclaimed a smiling Baffert. "When I looked up and saw Tyler Baze was skiing down the frontside until the backside, I said 'Oh, man.' That poor kid - I felt so bad for him. I told him that if you miss the break on a speed horse, you can forget about it. He was just trying to save his life."

Baffert said Indian Express would remain at Churchill Downs and, if all goes well over the next few days, the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up could go on to the second jewel of the Visa Triple Crown. But Baffert said it is unlikely that Baze would ride the colt if he does go on to Baltimore.

"I told him, 'It's a good experience for you,'" said Baffert. "I told him I would probably take him off the horse if I run, but I don't know if I'm going to run. I'm just going to wait a week so. I'd like to go (to the Preakness) with him. I feel cheated, but at the same time I've got to see how the horse is doing."

Baffert said Robert and Beverly Lewis' Senor Swinger, winner of the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) on May 2 in his debut on the grass, is "possible" for a return to the main track for the Preakness.

"That option is open," said Baffert. "He came out of his race great. It looks like the Wood (Memorial, gr. I) was a pretty strong race, huh?"

Senor Swinger finished fifth in the Wood Memorial, a race in which Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide ran second to eventual Derby runner-up Empire Maker. Baffert said his decision on a Preakness bid for Senor Swinger could depend on the availability of jockey Pat Day, who rode Senor Swinger in the Crown Royal American Turf and has won the Preakness five times.

"If I could get Pat Day then I'd go and take a shot," he said.