Now that we've gone 33 years since the last Triple Crown winner, it's time to ask some serious questions.
What's it going to take for a 3-year-old to step up and become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes?
Shorten the distances? A little more time between the three races?
Not if you ask Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who's won nine Triple Crown races, including three Derbies. He thinks everything is fine, except one major factor.
Baffert believes the Derby needs to be limited to 14 horses, not the 20 that are currently allowed to enter the starting gate.
"It (Triple Crown) would happen sooner than later if they just went with the 14," Baffert said this week after returning to California with Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude, who finished 16th in the Derby and 13th in the Preakness. "It should be the 14 best 3-year-olds in the country. But they'll never do it because Churchill Downs would lose money on those extra (horses).
"Fourteen horses, everybody's got an equal shot, and that way the best horse will win."
Baffert knows all about huge Derby fields, having watched last year's roller derby when Lookin At Lucky broke from the rail in the 20-horse lineup and got jostled like one of those bumper cars at the Fair. He didn't have a chance, but still finished a respectable sixth.
"Lookin At Lucky was the proof in the pudding," Baffert said. "If there'd been 14 horses, he could have weaved himself out of there, or at least had a better chance. I remember the year that Silver Charm won (1997) and there was (13), only one gate, and all the horses had a chance to run their race and they kept going back for more.
"I think we need more of those horses going back into every leg. It would encourage the horses to run back in the Preakness, thinking, `Maybe I'll get 'em this time."'
Baffert believes there will be a 12th Triple Crown winner someday, but it's going to take racing luck and a horse that is the best of its generation.
For example, 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given was one of the best 3-year-olds to not win the Triple Crown, finishing fifth in a 17-horse Derby field before going on to win the Preakness, Belmont, Haskell and Travers Stakes until an injury ended his career.
"He was a man amongst boys," Baffert said. "Distance was not a problem with him ... it was just effortless. He was the best of that generation by a lot."
But Point Given got caught up in a scorching pace in the Derby that saw the leaders go 44.86 and 1:09.25. He moved into second at one point but had nothing left in the stretch under jockey Gary Stevens.
"His Derby, he had a decent post, but we just didn't know his running style until after the race," Baffert said. "We were a race too late, but that's the way it goes. He was chasing a ridiculous pace and that's why he emptied out.
"When I won the Belmont with him I was happy, but at the same time I was sort of disappointed that he hadn't swept. He was the one I wasn't worried about."
Baffert thinks Spectacular Bid in 1979 and Point Given were the two best 3-year-olds that didn't win the Triple Crown.
Could Barbaro have done it if he hadn't broken down in the Preakness?
"We'll never know, but Bernardini was just sitting there (for the Preakness)," Baffert said. "He was a fresh horse. It would have been tough (for Barbaro)."
Baffert said he knows all too well how difficult it is to win the Triple Crown.
Four times - with Silver Charm, Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and Point Given - he's won two-thirds of the crown only to come up short.
"All I know is, every time I go to the Preakness and they have the list and names of the Triple Crown winners on the fence, I have so much respect for those horses because it is so tough," he said.
It's been reported Baffert is considering the Belmont Stakes on June 11 for Jaycito, Awesome Patriot and Uncle Sam, but he said this week it's probably less than 50-50 that one of the three will run in the 11/2-mile race.
"I'm really on the fence there," he said. "Jaycito, we're just getting him back going, and (owner Ahmed) Zayat has Nehro in there and he looks pretty good. I don't know, I'm tired of getting beat up in the first two legs."
Baffert was disappointed in Midnight Interlude's Preakness effort.
"I thought he'd be real competitive, but he just stopped at the three-eighths pole," he said. "I brought him back and couldn't find anything wrong with him. His body type, he looks like a grass horse. He's built like a grass horse, so we're just gonna regroup, freshen him up and probably point for the grass races here in California."
At least then he won't run into any 20-horse fields.