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Kentucky Derby leads off Triple Crown without Bob Baffert

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The Kentucky Derby leads off the first Triple Crown season in decades without the chance of Bob Baffert officially winning one or more of the three races.

Baffert’s absence while suspended shadows over the race, particularly because two horses he trained for a significant period of time are among the top contenders. Former assistant Tim Yakteen would get the credit if Taiba or Messier wins after taking over training duties.

“It’s a talking point, but it’s not a distraction other than that,” retired jockey Jerry Bailey said. “To me, the only thing that’s going to be different is the record books.”

Taiba could become the first horse since 1883 to win the Derby with two or fewer previous starts. Baffert-trained Justify won it on the way…

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