Racing: Silver Charm attempts to win over America

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The Independent Online
Americans too are waiting to hail a wonder horse today. Silver Charm, who has already won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, attempts to become only the 12th horse in history to complete the US Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, New York, tonight.

This feat has not been achieved since 1978, when a little lad called Steve Cauthen partnered Affirmed to the hat-trick. Four colts - Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Alysheba and Sunday Silence - have subsequently won the first two legs before falling at Belmont's final hurdle.

Should Silver Charm win he will join the exalted company of such as Citation, Secretariat and Seattle Slew, and he may also prompt a celebration of the bizarre in the winners' enclosure. The three-year-old is trained by a former history teacher Bob Baffert, whose post-race antics make Frankie Dettori look like a dullard. When he once captured a race on Halloween, Baffert welcomed back his winner with a plastic pumpkin on his head.

If Silver Charm, the 6-5 favourite, does indeed collect the 129th running of the Belmont he will earn a $5m bonus. "It's been fun but I'll be glad when it's all over," Baffert said. "So far things have gone smoothly and the horse got here great."

The Classics spill over into tomorrow too when three British fillies make an assault on the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly. The strongest of the challengers appears to be the Dettori-ridden Ryafan, whose trainer, John Gosden, is also represented by Khassah. The raiding party is completed by Peter Chapple-Hyam's Dances With Dreams.

The visitors were squashed in the colts' equivalent, the Prix du Jockey- Club last weekend, however, and the French resistance once again looks formidable. The unbeaten Always Loyal, who won her domestic 1,000 Guineas for Criquette Head, is likely to start favourite, and other influences may be Mousse Glacee and Brilliance.