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Baffert's Govenor Charlie steps up in Preakness

BALTIMORE (AP) - Five-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert revealed the secret to his success Saturday.

``I've brought some really good horses,'' he said. ``If you bring the best horse, you usually win.''

Standing outside the Pimlico stakes barn nearly 10 hours before the Preakness, Baffert acknowledged that his entrant, Govenor Charlie, didn't have the credentials of the competition in the nine-horse field.

``He's never run against this caliber of horses before, so it's going to be a big step up for him,'' the Hall of Fame trainer said. ``But he looks like he's up for it. He's working well and looks happy.''

Govenor Charlie came in with only three career races on his ledger. He won twice, including the Grade 3 Sunland Derby on March 24. Whether that prepared the dark brown colt for the Preakness remained to be seen.

``We're going to learn more about the horse today,'' Baffert said. ``He's a lightly raced horse but he's doing well. It's going to be a class check. He's bred for it; we'll see what the pace is.''

Baffert made the decision to come to Baltimore when he realized the Preakness would have its smallest field since 2007.

``That had a lot to do with it,'' he said.


RETURN TO BALTIMORE: With three horses in the field, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas didn't get much time to enjoy Baltimore, one of his favorite cities in the country.

``I was talking to my girlfriend and said that it's really unfair that I'm not able to run you down to the (Inner) Harbor and let you see some of the sights and do some of the stuff that Baltimore has to offer,'' he said Saturday. ``I said maybe when we don't have so much going on, or if I have only one (horse) in and we don't have to be so tied to the barn, if you'll come back we'll try to do a little more.''

Standing in front of the corner stall that has become his usual spot at Pimlico for the Preakness, the 77-year-old Lukas hoped the work he put in this week would translate to success in the Preakness.

``When you get to the last day like this, some years you say, `Man, I wish I had another week.' And other times you say, `I wish we ran him last Saturday. I felt great about them a week ago,''' he said. ``You hope everything has just fallen in place, but you also have to think about what could go wrong. You analyze that a little bit. It's so unpredictable. But if you're real comfortable as a trainer that you've done almost everything you can, then all you have to do is worry about if the rider is in the same zone with you.''

Toward that end, Lukas switched two jockeys for the Preakness.

Mike Smith was to ride Will Take Charge, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby, and Julien Leparoux took over on long shot Titletown Five, who came in fourth in the Derby Trial Stakes. Gary Stevens will remain aboard Oxbow, who finished sixth in the Derby.

Lukas said the changes enhanced his confidence.

``Yes, it really does because the riders I've selected now are Hall of Fame quality riders or in the Hall of Fame,'' he said. ``I feel good about them. They're not going to get rattled by the magnitude of the race. They're going to go out there and perform like pros.''

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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

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