Baffert: ‘Down Deep, I Knew I Was Going To Win It With One Of Them’

As he did five years earlier with American Pharoah following his Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic triumph at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert brought his newest winner, Authentic, out of the barn Sunday morning for an impromptu photo session.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions there were only about a dozen people on hand to see Baffert’s fourth Classic winner. Baffert was every bit as upbeat, though, as he talked about his chestnut Kentucky Derby winner, who broke American Pharoah’s track record with a time of 1:59.19.

In front from gate to wire under jockey John Velazquez, Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing’s Authentic led the alphabetical finish of Baffert’s three Classic runners. Improbable, the 4-year-old co-owned by WinStar Farm, CHC Inc. and SF Racing, was second, 2 1/4 lengths behind his stablemate, while Gary and Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s  4-year-old Maximum Security checked in fifth in the 10-horse field.

It was the first time that a trainer had saddled the first two finishers in the Classic. Authentic was 4-1 in the wagering and paid $10.40 for the win.

Baffert said he is not sure whether Authentic will be retired to stud for 2021 at Spendthrift. He declined an opportunity to lobby for the colt, a lock to be the 3-year-old champion male, as the Horse of the Year, but said he belongs in the conversation.

“I think the way he ran in the Derby he vindicated himself after his beat – but he still ran a great race – in the Preakness,” Baffert said. “He’s just getting better, he’s maturing. I could just tell with the way he was training that he has caught up with these older horses. He’s just so quick. He’s fast. Johnny said he felt better than he ever has and he had trouble pulling him up. He came back like it was nothing. He’s a great horse. He’s filling out.”

Improbable and Maximum Security made their final starts Saturday and headed into retirement: Improbable to WinStar Farm and Maximum Security to Ashford Stud.

Baffert said Maximum Security – previously trained by Jason Servis, who has been indicted in a federal probe into doping of racehorses – had been unable to regain the top form that made him a five-time Grade 1 winner but said that Improbable had turned in a terrific performance.

“I was proud of the way they ran,” he said. “They were training well. Down deep I knew I was going to win it with one of them. I wasn’t sure (which one), when you come in loaded like that. It would have been nice to run 1-2-3 and it would have been horrible not to win with the three. I was thinking about that all the time.”

Authentic delivered for Baffert, just as he had in the Derby and was able to grab an unpressured early lead. Chastened by the runner-up finish to Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness on Oct. 3, Velazquez rode more aggressively and kept the quirky colt busy on the front end.

“That Authentic is serious. He’s a great horse,” Baffert said. “What he did yesterday – that was a great field – and he just ran away from that field. Improbable is a really good horse. Turning for home, I thought that Improbable was going to kick in there and that Authentic caught another gear and he was gone.”

Overall, Baffert has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic four times, all with 3-year-olds. In addition to Authentic and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, he won the race with Bayern in 2014 and Arrogate in 2016.

Published at Sun, 08 Nov 2020 19:19:11 +0000

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