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Authentic gives Bob Baffert another Breeders’ Cup Classic win

Jockey John Velazquez (9) rides Authentic to a win in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7, 2020, in Lexington, Ky.
Jockey John Velazquez (9) rides Authentic to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

It’s always tough for a 3-year-old to beat more experienced, more seasoned and more mature horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But trainer Bob Baffert seems to have figured out how.

On Saturday, before limited owners and essential personnel at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Kentucky Derby winner Authentic went to the lead early and held on to win the $6-million race considered the most important in the sport.

It was Baffert’s fourth Classic victory, and all have been with 3-year-olds. He won with Bayern in 2014, Arrogate in 2016 and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. Authentic joined that group Saturday.

“He’s maturing right now, and this [shows it],” Baffert said. “I’ve won it with 3-year-olds, and this is the time of year they catch up. I was sort of surprised at the tote board, that he was 5-1. I go, ‘This guy’s won the Kentucky Derby, and it’s not like he ran a horrible race in the Preakness.’ ”

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Trainer Bob Baffert, center, and others celebrate Authentic's win in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7, 2020.
Trainer Bob Baffert, center, celebrates Authentic’s triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The win also takes some of the sting out of a tumultuous year for Baffert, in which he had four medication violations, including two on Gamine, who won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint earlier in the day. On Wednesday, Baffert announced a series of changes to barn protocols, including adding another veterinarian to oversee medication and safety issues.

“I want my legacy to be one of making every effort to do right by the horse and the sport,” he said in a midweek statement.

Authentic immediately went to the lead in the 1¼-mile race and built a 2½-length advantage after about a half-mile. He maintained a safe margin into and around the far turn and held a three-length lead entering the stretch. No one mounted a serious threat to the front-runner, and Authentic had a winning margin of 2 ¼ lengths.

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It was the first Classic win for 48-year-old jockey John Velazquez.

Monomoy Girl’s victory in Breeders’ Cup Distaff gave trainer Brad Cox his fourth victory of the weekend, tying a record held by Richard Mandella in 2003.

“The older I get, the more emotional I get,” Velazquez said. “It worked out perfect. Bob said to take him to the lead so he doesn’t wander so much and keep his mind on running. It worked out. He did everything I wanted him to do.”

Baffert responded with a quick rejoinder.

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“I do my best work with older riders,” he said with a smile.

Baffert had three horses in the Classic and finished second with Improbable and fifth with Maximum Security. Authentic went off as the fifth choice and returned $10.40, $5.40 and $4.20. Global Campaign was third, followed by Tacitus, Maximum Security, Tiz The Law, Title Ready, By My Standards, Tom’s d’Etat and Higher Power.

Tiz The Law was the post-time favorite at 3-1, based on his wins in the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes as well as his second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He skipped the Preakness to get ready for the Classic.

But he never fired and finished sixth.

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“I was happy with the way he came into the race,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “I thought he would run his race, but [jockey Manny Franco] said he was just too keen and didn’t run.”

There is no Winner’s Circle big enough to hold the more than 5,300 owners of Authentic. The colt is owned by Spendthrift Farm, Madaket Stables, Starlight Racing and MyRaceHorse Stable, which allows people to own a very, very small part of the horse for a modest investment. Spendthrift Farm is the majority owner.

“When we set out to do this a couple years ago, the idea was to celebrate this sport with as many people as possible,” said Michael Behrens, who manages myracehorse.com. “And to have 5,314 people to an ownership stake in Authentic, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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“Racing has been an amazing distraction for everything that’s going on, for so many people going through so many hardships … with the pandemic. … I’m so glad that we can just be a part of helping people through this difficult time.”

As for Authentic’s future, things are up in the air. Horse racing is known for taking its budding stars and sending them off to the breeding shed because the real money in racing is after the running career is over.

There were no promises to allow Authentic to run as a 4-year-old.

“The plan is we’re going to get together with the team, I would probably say [Sunday],” said Eric Gustavson, president of Spendthrift Farm. “We have to make some decisions. We have to go over all the implications, talk to Sol [Kumin of Madaket Stables] and make plans for the future. But for tonight we’re just going to enjoy.”

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The Breeders’ Cup returns to Del Mar next year and comes back to Keeneland in 2022.


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