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“We see so little of so many of these horses today that anybody that tells you, ‘Yeah, I saw him as the next great horse’ is just pulling your leg,” Paulick said. “Because you just don’t know.”

Those who are trying to prevent him from being the “next great horse,” are willing to concede that it’s possible. Animal Kingdom has only raced five times in his career, with three victories and two second-place finishes.

“I don’t think anybody’s taking Animal Kingdom lightly. I’m not, because Bob Baffert isn’t, Steve Asmussen isn’t,” said George Bolton, co-owner of Astrology. “When the trainers are telling you, ‘This horse could be the real, real deal,’ and he could be that good on turf, dirt and [Polytrack] just like Big Brown was good on all three surfaces, there’s no reason he couldn’t be a really nice horse.”

Still, you can go down the list of really nice horses over the past 27 years and find the likes of Charismatic, Real Quiet, Alysheba and Spectacular Bid — some of the best who came up short.

That’s because, to capture the Triple Crown, you need a couple of things that don’t always come together — two things horse racing fans hope are present this spring for Animal Kingdom.

“A good horse,” Baffert said, “And you need a whole lotta luck.”