THOROUGHBRED NEWS AND NOTES FOR LATE JULY
Another week, some more thoughts on the sport of kings. Thoroughbred racing has obviously felt the effects of this Covid 19 thing, but much to the delight of guys like me, they are still running at different tracks across the country. With that in mind, let’s examine some news and notes from the greatest sport in the world…Giddy up
BAFFERT HAS ANOTHER HASKELL WINNER
Monmouth Park in mid to late July is a familiar destination for trainer Bob Baffert. The Haskell Invitational Stakes is normally a prep race for the Travers Stakes and the hall of fame conditioner has had a way of getting one of his runners ready for this speed favoring New Jersey dirt. First run in 1968, the mile and an eighth race around two turns has seen some of the best three- year olds in the game during that span. Coming in to the 2020 edition, Baffert had visited the winner’s circle a record eight times (2001, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015). Days before the race, Big Race Bob reveled the secret to winning…”Just bring your best horse”, he quipped.
This edition was coming up a bit different as the 2020 race is another prep for the rescheduled Kentucky Derby. With a re-shuffled line-up of three year olds because of injury, Baffert sent his most accomplished runner to post on July 18.
Authentic went to post against six others with high ideals about continuing the tradition of excellence from the Baffert barn. Coming in with three wins and a second place finish in four lifetime starts, this son of Into Mischief has looked like a prime-timer. Deeming the Haskell as a “perfect fit” for his charge, the gates opened and people found out this titan among trainers was right again.
Alertly breaking under jockey Mike Smith, Authentic went right to the lead and set a solid early pace (23.6 opening quarter, 47.52 half mile). Running as if he was much the best, Authentic opened up a two and a half length lead in deep stretch. At the sixteenth pole it looked like the race was over.
Then suddenly things changed. A rallying NY Traffic was whittling away at what seemed an insurmountable lead. As the wire drew ever closer, Smith encouraged Authentic to reignite the engine. In what turned out to be a photo finish, Authentic held on by a nose and provided his trainer with an anxious few moments.
“I am very happy with the win and pleased with his performance,” says Baffert. “He seemed to lose focus down the lane. Maybe we will add blinkers to help correct that before his next race.”
With that “next” race perhaps the Kentucky Derby on September 5, Authentic is second to Tiz The Law in qualifying points (200). In displaying the front-running speed like many of the good Baffert horses have done in the past, this Spendthrift Farms owned colt looks like a Derby horse. In fact, you might could say the Haskell win makes him…Authentic.