By Brian DiDonato
Bob Baffert’s formidable GI Kentucky Derby line-up had continued to dwindle along this extended Triple Crown trail–with one of his entries even scratching in the paddock Saturday–but the last colt standing, Authentic (Into Mischief), provided the Hall of Fame conditioner with a record-tying sixth trophy in the “Run for the Roses.” Odds-on favorite Tiz the Law (Constitution) ranged up to challenge the winner, but was repelled, and settled for second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths. Huge longshot Mr. Big News (Giant’s Causeway) was this year’s trifecta crasher, while second choice Honor A. P. (Honor Code) rallied for fourth after getting roughed up at the start and hung very wide throughout. The winner stopped the clock in 2:00.61.
Representing the powerful partnership of Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing, 8-1 Authentic broke a bit slowly but worked his way from the outside post to the lead while at first traveling with his head cocked towards the nearly empty grandstand. He was several lanes off the fence into the first turn with Tiz the Law perched in fourth in what appeared to be a good spot. Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic), who broke outward sharply at the start and into Honor A. P., prompted from the pace from Authentic’s right hip with champion juvenile Storm the Court (Court Vision) taking up the pocket spot along a rail that had seemed dull over the past two race days. Early splits were up in :22.92, :46.41 and 1:10.23, and Tiz the Law ranged up around the home bend to set the stage for a stretch battle. Authentic and Tiz the Law were head and head as they straightened, but the favorite was a bit slow to switch leads as Authentic–whose prior stretch antics had been well documented–continued on straight and strong. Tiz the Law had every opportunity to go by, but it was Authentic’s day as he bounded away a clear-cut winner. According to Trakus data, Tiz the Law covered 23 feet (approximately 2 3/4 lengths) more than the winner, while Honor A. P. had to navigate an additional 49 feet (5 3/4 lengths).
Baffert’s other runner, Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift’s Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile), went down in the paddock while being saddled and was a late defection. Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes was injured in the incident and appeared to suffer a fractured wrist or arm.
“Unbelievable. I’m worried about Jimmy. He broke his arm,” an emotional Baffert said after the race and before Authentic wheeled and knocked down Baffert and several others during the trophy presentation. “All I can say is this horse ran out of his mind. [John Velazquez]–perfect ride. I owe it all to my crew. Jimmy, poor guy is in an ambulance right now, can’t enjoy it. This is so emotional the ups and downs in this game. Unbelievable.”
Baffert’s six Derby wins tied the mark set by mid-20th century conditioner Ben Jones. His last two Derby winners, American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), completed their respective Triple Crown sweeps.
This was New York-based fellow Hall of Famer Velazquez’s third Derby win.
“It’s always a concern that you let the horse do too much early in the race,” said the veteran pilot. “You like to save ground and save some horse for the end. Bob was pretty certain the horse was ready today. I let him get loose and get comfortable. I waited until the horses got to him to get after him and he responded right away. Bob kept telling me to make sure I saved that last eighth of a mile. I want that eighth of a mile. He said I want you to hit left-handed and he responded. It worked out the way we had planned it. Very proud of the horse.”
A 1 1/2-length debut winner sprinting at Del Mar in November, Authentic aired by 7 3/4 lengths in Santa Anita’s one-mile GIII Sham S. in early January. He dominated the GII San Felipe S. Mar. 7 over Honor A. P. and Storm the Court, and was the favored individual entry at 6-1 when Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby wager closed the following day.
Despite his obvious credentials and then-unblemished record, however, Authentic soon seemed potentially as low as third on Baffert’s Derby depth chart behind ‘TDN Rising Star’ Nadal (Blame), who himself went to three-for-three a week after the San Felipe in Oaklawn’s GII Rebel S.; and ‘Rising Star’ Charlatan (Speightstown), who paired up big figures in a Mar. 14 optional claimer for an ownership group that overlapped with Authentic’s.
By the close of Pool 4 on Apr. 5, and after COVID-19 confusion had begun, Authentic was 10-1, Nadal was 9-1 and still just two-for-two Charlatan was 5-1 along with Tiz the Law, who had romped in the GI Curlin Florida Derby a week earlier.
Authentic remained in the barn for all of April and May, while Nadal and Charlatan each annexed divisions of the GI Arkansas Derby on would-be Kentucky Derby day, May 2.
But Baffert’s Derby hand was looking significantly weaker even before Authentic was bested by Honor A. P. in the June 6 GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Nadal was retired in late May due to a condylar fracture, and on the same day as the Santa Anita Derby it was revealed that Charlatan would be forced to miss the GI Belmont S. due to an ankle injury. Charlatan, who has not been seen since, was disqualified from his Arkansas Derby win due to a lidocaine positive, as was subsequent MGISW Gamine (Into Mischief) for her allowance win on the same card. Baffert was issued a 15-day suspension.
Meanwhile, B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift had purchased a majority interest in Authentic just days before the Santa Anita Derby from SF Racing, Fred Hertrich, John Fielding and Golconda Stables, and the colt’s number of owners grew exponentially when the Spendthrift-backed micro-share syndicate MyRacehorse bought in shortly after Authentic’s first defeat.
Authentic had last been seen hanging on by a nose over Ny Traffic in the July 18 GI TVG.com Haskell S. at Monmouth after seeming to be well on his way to a much more dominant victory before easing up late. MGSW juvenile Thousand Words appeared to give Baffert another shot at the roses when he returned to winning ways and held off Honor A. P. in the Aug. 1 Shared Belief at Del Mar.
Hughes Gets His Classic…
This was the first Classic win for Spendthrift principal B. Wayne Hughes, the billionaire founder of Public Storage and one of the sport’s most heavily invested participants. Spendthrift also stands Into Mischief.
“The fact that we own the horse, and then we own the stallion, who’s the best stallion in America–and now he’s even more the best stallion in America…we are so blessed. I will tell you that. We’re very, very thankful,” said Spendthrift President Eric Gustafson, who noted that Hughes and his wife Patty had hosted a Derby party at Spendthrift.
Gustafson added, “This was maybe the most surreal day of my life because you are here at the Derby and you’ve got–nobody’s here. And then we have two horses. We’re lucky enough to have Thousand Words in the race as well. He flips over in the paddock, and so we were just down in the dumps about that. We were low. And best wishes out to Jimmy Barnes on that, because he got hurt in the process, unfortunately. And we hope and pray that he’s okay and that Thousand Words is okay.”
According to on-call veterinarian Dr. Kathy Anderson, Thousand Words escaped without injury: “The good news is the horse is absolutely fine. He did misbehave in the paddock and was scratched after he fell over sort of onto his side… he’s returned to the stable area. Had a thorough examination by Dr. Kevin Dunlavy, his regular practitioner, and has been cleared for service with not a scratch upon him. So we’re very pleased with that outcome.”
“This is the first time I’ve ever had this and first time I’ve ever seen it happen in the Derby to have one scratch in the paddock,” said Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey. “And I feel really terrible for our partners, the Albaughs. They have been great partners and have had some wonderful horses. And we were really excited about our chances with him as well.
“But to turn right around and have Authentic do what he did. And it was really sort of fun to watch, for obvious reasons, but also, you know, there weren’t too many people that really believed he could do the 1 1/4 [miles]–and he did it. And not only did he do it, but he held off the best horse in America. I think when you beat a horse like that, I think it’s even more gratifying.”
See Kentucky Derby Q&A with B. Wayne Hughes for more.
Quadruple Crown Not Meant to Be…
While the Triple Crown is an extremely difficult feat in a normal year, this year’s spread-out series figured to present its own challenges. After appearing invincible in the Belmont and Aug. 8 GI Runhappy Travers S., the public’s pick Tiz the Law suffered his second career defeat in his second trip to Churchill Downs–he was third with trouble in last November’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club S.
“I’m the only person who returned from the Funny Cide days, so we had a whole new group of people, their first experience in the Kentucky Derby,” said Sackatoga Stable’s managing partner Jack Knowlton, who first made his way into the public eye during 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide’s Triple Crown run. “Even though it didn’t turn out the way we hoped it would, certainly no shame in the race he ran. He’ll be back. Hopefully he’ll come out of the race well and we’ll look to go on to Baltimore [for the Oct. 3 GI Preakness S.] and hopefully win that and get some revenge.”
Tiz the Law’s trainer Barclay Tagg dismissed speculation about his runner’s glue-on shoes–saying the colt had raced in them every time–and added, “He’s run well every time. He ran a good race today. He got beat.”
More from the Participants…
“Like I said, it’s a great accomplishment. But, you know, I’m here because of the clientele, the hard work that’s put in, people around me. I surround myself with really great people. And it’s fun. I enjoy working.
“I got a beautiful wife that when I feel a little bit down, Jill keeps me up. And to me, I was more happy for Jill winning this, because she has to endure the pain that I have to go through, especially this year. It’s craziness that I’ve had to go up and down with what’s happened. And she’s right there. She’s my rock. And to me it’s more important that number six to beat–they’re so tough to win, these races.
“This one, they’re more enjoyable when you think going in, ‘I don’t know if I can win this or not’ because I really thought Tiz the Law was unbeatable. And I didn’t really–I thought I have a good horse, but we’re stuck way on the outside.” –Baffert on Derby win number six
“Equality For All. We believe that if we have equality for everybody, we won’t be in the mess we are in right now. Really. I think people have to look inside and be more peaceful. Obviously, we believe that humans need to take care of one another. I think it’s just equality for everybody will make the world much better.
“But it goes the same way to when things are going wrong or something makes a mistake by the law and everything, you need to be held accountable, definitely. So I think justice for everybody should be equality. And we’ll be much better and a better place.” –Velazquez in response to a question about the protests for racial justice held outside of Churchill Downs Saturday
“I had the trip that I expected. He just couldn’t go by the other horse. The other horse fought so hard. He was ready for today too.” –Tiz the Law’s rider Manny Franco
“You know what, [jockey] Gabe [Saez] did a wonderful job. The horse ran his guts out and we’re really proud. It’s just exactly what we wanted and I thought we were going to get the job done but those other two horses are awesome horses, congratulations to those connections. We just couldn’t be prouder. I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. Sunday night figuring out if I was going to run in the [GII American Turf S.] or the Derby and you see where we ended up.” –Chester Thomas, owner of Mr. Big News
“I was proud that he still put in an effort and ran OK. It wasn’t his best race by no means. I never dreamed he would struggle with the track. When we saw him train over the track this week, he was bouncing over it, but it was sloppy. He seemed to like that. His deepier, cuppier track–he has a big ‘ol flat foot. He just couldn’t get a hold out of it. –Mike Smith, rider of Honor A. P.
“The inside post hurt him. He stood there too long and didn’t break well. He left himself a ton to do, but got up for fifth late. Just too much in front of him.” –Max Player’s trainer Steve Amussen
Derby Business, as Expected, Off Significantly…
Given the circumstances of this year’s re-positioned Derby–which featured a heavy favorite and just a 15-horse field compared to 19 in 2019–and the lack of on-track spectators besides limited owners and their guests, wagering was down significantly year over year.
Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby card totaled $126 million compared to $250.9 million on the 2019 Kentucky Derby Day program (a near 50% decline). All-sources wagering on the Derby itself was $79.4 million compared to $165.5 million last May.
“We are grateful to our fans and our community for their support of the 146th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “We look forward to seeing our loyal fans at next year’s 147th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May.”
Authentic is one of seven highest-level winners for the nation’s leading stallion Into Mischief, and provided a bit of redemption for his stable and sire after brilliant MGISW Gamine’s third-place run in Friday’s GI Kentucky Oaks. Into Mischief himself never raced beyond 1 1/16 miles, and if there was something missing on his CV it was siring a winner at a Classic distance–Authentic is Into Mischief’s first Grade I winner at 10 panels or farther.
The Derby winner is also one of seven Grade I winners for broodmare sire Mr. Greeley. He is out of ‘TDN Rising Star‘ Flawless, who aired by 13 1/4 lengths in her seven-furlong Belmont unveiling for Bill Mott and breeder Peter Blum as a sophomore in May of 2010. She earned a 93 Beyer in her only other start, finishing second to eventual GSP Bahama Bound (Empire Maker), whose 2-year-old of this year is an Into Mischief filly who has finished second in both of her first two starts. Flawless produced Bodemeister colts in mid-May of 2018 and 2019. She was unsuccessfully bred to Mastery last term, and was reunited with Into Mischief for 2021.
Twenty-seven yearlings by Into Mischief sold for more than the $350,000 cost Authentic in 2018. He was part of an $11,430,000 expenditure at that year’s sales by a group consisting of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Fred Hertrich III, John Fielding and Ben Goldberg and Elliott Friman’s Golconda Stables. Nicknamed “The Avengers” by Baffert, the powerful team was established with the express goal of acquiring Classic-type colts who Baffert could develop into stallion prospects. Several of the entities involved with Authentic were also in on 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.
Saturday, Churchill Downs
KENTUCKY DERBY PRESENTED BY WOODFORD RESERVE-GI, $3,000,000, Churchill Downs, 9-5, 3yo, 1 1/4m, 2:00.61, ft.
1–AUTHENTIC, 126, c, 3, by Into Mischief
1st Dam: Flawless, by Mr. Greeley
2nd Dam: Oyster Baby, by Wild Again
3rd Dam: Really Fancy, by In Reality
($350,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-Spendthrift Farm LLC,
MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC & Starlight Racing;
B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-John
Velazquez. $1,860,000. Lifetime Record: 6-5-1-0,
$2,871,200. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Tiz the Law, 126, c, 3, Constitution–Tizfiz, by Tiznow.
($110,000 Ylg ’18 SARAUG). O-Sackatoga Stable; B-Twin Creeks
Farm (NY); T-Barclay Tagg. $600,000.
3–Mr. Big News, 126, c, 3, Giant’s Causeway–Unappeased (Ire),
by Galileo (Ire). ($95,000 Ylg ’18 FTKOCT). O-Allied Racing
Stable, LLC; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-W. Bret
Margins: 1 1/4, 2, 1 3/4. Odds: 8.40, 0.70, 46.50.
Also Ran: Honor A. P., Max Player, Storm the Court, Enforceable, Ny Traffic, Necker Island, Major Fed, Sole Volante, Winning Impression, Money Moves, Attachment Rate, South Bend. Scratched: Finnick the Fierce, King Guillermo, Thousand Words.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.