Pioneer of Nile seeks to avenge loss
BALTIMORE (AP) — Bob Baffert oozed confidence in Pioneerof the Nile leading to the Kentucky Derby.
The colt was in front coming down the stretch, and for a few moments the Hall of Fame trainer thought he had his fourth Derby victory.
‘‘It just took the air out of us,’’ Baffert recalled Thursday.
As was the case with most of the 150,000 people at Churchill Downs that day. Calvin Borel and 50-1 shot Mine That Bird blew by Pioneerof the Nile to win by 6 3/4 lengths in the second-biggest upset in Derby history.
Now Baffert and his colt are back for a rematch in Saturday’s Preakness.
Not only will they have to contend with the Derby winner, but Borel has switched horses and will ride stellar filly Rachel Alexandra, the 8-5 morning line favorite who brings a five-race winning streak into the 1 3-16-mile race at Pimlico.
‘‘I would’ve taken a shot at the Derby with her. She’s just a tremendous athlete,’’ Baffert said. ‘‘She’s a good filly and these classics are huge. There’s not a lot of money to run for fillies. She fits with these boys, so I don’t blame them for taking a shot.’’
Baffert did the same thing with Excellent Meeting in 1999, but she was pulled up as a precaution and didn’t finish the race.