TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders


1) AUTHENTIC (c, Into Mischief–Flawless, by Mr. Greeley)
O-Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC & Starlight Racing. B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $350,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 6-5-1-0, $2,871,200.

Front-running Authentic bested 14 Derby foes in admirable, take-the-heat fashion. But it was the way this $350,000 KEESEP Into Mischief bay overcame a long season’s worth of focusing issues to finally put forth a polished, seasoned effort that truly stands out. Although Authentic might have given his connections an anxious moment or two when he came away flat-footed at the break from the outermost 15 stall, jockey John Velazquez didn’t rush the colt at all. In fact, the bent-necked Authentic had his head cocked out to the near-empty grandstand while ranging up widest to attain a prominent early placement. Ridden with restraint, Authentic hit the top just past the finish wire the first time, but he still had to safely clear three inside rivals through the first turn, costing him some ground. Onto the backstretch Velazquez maintained a margin of about a length while remaining several paths off the rail. Authentic really only had to put away one serious “first run” bid off the far turn, but that one challenger loomed menacingly in the form of legit Derby fave Tiz the Law (Constitution). Tiz got his nose in front at the quarter pole, but that affront only emboldened Authentic, who dug in determinedly and responded to left-handed stick work (this per trainer Bob Baffert’s instructions, Velazquez later said) despite shifting out for several strides before finishing with purpose inside the sixteenth pole. The Preakness now awaits the 5-for-6 Derby champ.