LOUISVILLE, KY (Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020) – It wasn’t the usual morning-after scene around Barn 33 on Sunday as only a smattering of media and cameras were on hand waiting for the shedrow’s Hall of Fame trainer to lead out his latest Kentucky Derby hero. But after months of having one contender after another go by the wayside in the lead up the 146th edition of the “Run for the Roses”, Bob Baffert was never more thankful or grateful to show off a newly minted classic winner for the few who had gathered.
Baffert has brought many an elite horse out on the Churchill Downs backside the day after the Kentucky Derby but the look of admiration he cast in the direction of Authentic less than 24 hours after the colt’s triumph in the 10-furlong test was one that spoke volumes about the journey to that point. The bay son of Into Mischief “wasn’t even tired” according to his trainer after leading every point of call to defeat heavily favored Tiz the Law and 13 others en route to giving Baffert his record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby triumph.
Owned by Spendthrift Farm, My Racehorse, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing, Authentic capped off a wild 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby for Baffert that saw the trainer lose highly regarded Nadal and Charlatan to injury earlier in the year. The drama didn’t stop for Baffert even when he made it to the paddock for the race Saturday as his other Derby entrant this season, graded stakes winner Thousand Words, was a late scratch after rearing and flipping in the paddock -- an incident that resulted in assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes suffering a broken wrist that will require surgery.
Even without 160,000 in the stands to watch as this year’s Kentucky Derby was held without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic, Authentic managed to give his team a moment for the ages as he hit the wire 1 ¼ lengths in front.
“I couldn’t believe it, I thought he might be a little tired today,” Baffert said of Authentic. “He came out of it well. Jimmy is going to need surgery, I think he’ll need eight screws in his wrist but he actually was here this morning. He’s a trooper. I was so emotional yesterday because I wanted (Barnes) to be there. To me, that was most emotional Derby I’ve ever been involved in because of what happened during that little time frame. It was the most crazy 30 minutes I’ve had in racing.
“Before May, I was looking so strong and then everything just went wrong,” Baffert continued. “And to pull it off like that was really exciting. Winning the Kentucky Derby is the biggest moment in a trainer’s life. When you win it, it erases everything that has gone bad.”
With the Derby victory, Authentic not only answered the question of whether an offspring of Into Mischief could get 10 furlongs successfully, but he moved himself to the forefront of the sophomore male ranks having previously annexed the Haskell Stakes (GI), Sham Stakes (GIII) and San Felipe Stakes (GII) this year. His only loss in six career starts came when he ran second to Honor A. P. in the June 6 Santa Anita Derby (GI) and he also gives B. Wayne Hughes’ powerhouse Spendthrift Farm operation its first Derby triumph.
“It was all so unbelievable. I walked over with the Albaughs (co-owners of Thousand Words) and we’re all enjoying the moment and then…the next thing you know (Thousand Words) exploded and went over,” said Mark Toothaker, stallion sales manager of Spendthrift Farm, which also co-owns Thousand Words. “The state vet walked over and said he was a scratch. So you had all the emotion of you are within 20 minutes of having a horse getting ready to run in the Kentucky Derby that we picked out and we’re so excited and as we were walking through the tunnel, I said to our general manger Ned Toffey ‘If there is a Derby God out there….maybe we can win.’ For Authentic to just keep giving it in the stretch, it was like he had an extra push.”
A trip to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes (GI) on Oct. 3 is slated as the next objective for both Authentic and Thousand Words, as the latter escaped his paddock fall without injury. Baffert said both colts will head over the shedrow of Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas to stay for the next few weeks as the legendary conditioner has offered to help oversee the duo so that Baffert doesn’t have to ship them back to California in the interim.
“Being that the Preakness is a few weeks away, I thought it might be too hard on them to go back. So I have an assistant trainer, this D. Wayne Lukas guy here,” Baffert joked. “So they’re going to be in Wayne’s barn. We’re going to run them out of here. If they’re working well and all going well, they’ll go to the Preakness. I didn’t want to take them all the way to California and back. I want to give them every opportunity.
“We’re planning on both if they’re doing well. Thousand Woods we’ll give him another chance at it. He didn’t have a scratch on him.”
Even though he was flying back to California this morning to spend part of his birthday, Jimmy Barnes was back to work dark and early Sunday morning, albeit in a compromised capacity. Barnes said he wasn’t going to say anything about his broken right wrist — and he’s right-handed — but he rolled up his sleeve and saw it at the wrong angle. He said he watched the Derby on a phone in the ambulance on his way to Norton Audubon Hospital. He said the ER personnel knew he was connected to the Derby winner, and that the ER doctor actually was a co-breeder of Baffert’s two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute.
“I didn’t have to go (to the hospital). I could have watched it on a TV,” Barnes said. “I said, ‘Just get me over there and I can watch it on my phone.’ Heck, what was I going to do, run out to the winner’s circle and everything? My hand was pointing this way.”
(Were they aware at hospital you were connected to the Derby winner?)
“Oh yeah, my doctor bred Midnight Lute, he was a partner on Midnight Lute’s breeding and a horse we had called Socialbug
“We won. What a great race. I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was watching it on a phone. I would have wanted to stay, but I wanted to get out of there also. I didn’t want to prolong the situation. I knew what I was in for. I was probably going to be at the ER, I thought I’d be there a lot longer than I actually was. They put me out, reset it, wrapped it up, so I had to wait, because they won’t just release you once they do that. If it would have been my first Derby, they all mean a lot to me, but there were people there representing. I said, ‘They got it covered.’ ”
Barnes’ first Derby with Baffert was in 1999 with General Challenge and his first Derby winner with Baffert was War Emblem in 2002.
“That being said, I really wanted to stay, because it is an emotional thing,” Barnes said. “It was important to me to get started on this immediately so I could get back to the barn. That’s what was going through my head. When it happened, I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to say I was OK. I knew it kind of hurt. Then I pulled my sleeve up and saw it was pointing a different direction. So I pulled it back down and said, ‘I better say something.’ ”
“Then (Baffert) got knocked around and the owner got stepped on (in the winner’s circle).”
(Did Authentic surprise you?)
“Well, he didn’t surprise me, the way he trains and the way you watch him move. He’s just this big leaper. He’s got a huge stride on him,” Barnes said. “He just got out there motoring along. Johnny V rode him superbly. He committed early and if you’re going to go with him you’re going to be running fast. So they kind of backed off a bit, from what I saw. When they turned for him, he was headed. That horse was there. For him to straighten out and switch leads, because you look at his earlier races and he was very erratic in the stretch in numerous races. Even Mike (Smith) had some issues in New Jersey (winning the Grade I Haskell), and Drayden (Van Dyke) had some issues. But Johnny V, when he pulled his stick through to the left hand and got after him, boy, he just leveled out and said, ‘They’re not going by me today.’ ”
(On Thousand Words flipping and having to be scratched and then winning the Derby with Authentic, does that sum up horse racing?)
“You can be on the floor and then be up in the sky soaring,” Barnes said.
TIZ THE LAW – Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law is scheduled to return to New York on Tuesday following his runner-up effort in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby with plans for a next start to be determined.
“I just looked him over,” trainer Barclay Tagg said before heading to Lexington to begin the search for the next Tiz the Law at this week’s yearling sale. “His legs are good. He ate good. Everything’s good.”
The four-time Grade I winner, who went off as the 7-10 favorite Saturday, sustained only the second loss in his eight-race career with both setbacks coming at Churchill Downs. He was third in last November’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) on a sealed sloppy track.
In the Derby, Tiz the Law drew up alongside Authentic at the top of the stretch but never passed the eventual winner.
“The jock (Manny Franco) said that when he really had to get down and run, he was kind of swimming on that track. He didn’t like the track,” Tagg said. “You could see it in the stretch. He looked like he was going to go on by and win easy. His last (Beyer) number was a 109 (in the Travers). He bounced down to a 103 this time.
“The jock told me that and when I watch the replay you could see he just wasn’t getting a hold of it nicely. If you want to make an excuse, that is probably an excuse. He’s come out of well. He ate up his dinner last night. He’ll go back to New York Tuesday. I don’t want to say too much about the Preakness. I just want to see how he is. He’ll go back to New York and we’ll evaluate him.”
MR. BIG NEWS – Allied Racing’s Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Mr. Big News was “all good” Sunday morning, according to trainer Bret Calhoun.
“He gave us a big thrill,” Calhoun said. “It was an awesome race and we are so proud of this colt.”
Next race plans are yet to be determined.
HONOR A. P. – C R K Stable’s Honor A. P. was “doing good” Sunday morning, one day after rallying late for fourth as the 5-2 second choice. The Honor Code colt had a poor start and was last after the first six furlongs. Trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith had said Saturday after the race that he was floundering on the track early.
When asked what might be next for Honor A.P., Shirreffs said: “I haven’t even thought about that. He’ll head back to California Monday and we’ll see.”
MAX PLAYER – George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred Corp.’s Max Player was doing well Sunday morning, but his connections were obviously disappointed after his inside post position compromised his chances Saturday.
“He didn’t jump away from the gate as well as I had hoped and jumped up and down in the dirt early first time by, but continued running late,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I think there’s more there, and circumstances need to be created to get it.”
As for the Preakness, Asmussen said “I have not spoken with Mr. Hall to see what his plans are. I definitely think that would be me getting ahead of myself.”
STORM THE COURT – Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Dan Hudock’s Storm the Court is scheduled to return to his Southern California base on an early Monday morning flight according to trainer Peter Eurton.
Eurton, who was traveling back to Southern California early Sunday morning, said Storm the Court appeared to come out of his sixth-place Derby finish fine and there were no immediate plans for Storm the Court’s next race.
ENFORCEABLE – Assistant trainer David Carroll reported all was good with John Oxley’s Enforceable the morning after the colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby.
The son of Tapit was closer to the pace than usual, rating fifth through the opening half mile, before weakening in the lane.
“His legs are cold and tight, he cleaned up his feed,” said Carroll, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. “We’re very happy with him. We’ll live to fight another day. He broke sharp, and (jockey) Adam (Beschizza) never hustled him, he got a clean trip around there. He got us to the big dance and we’re proud of him and most of all he came back safe.”
NY TRAFFIC – John Fanelli, Cash is King, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic lost a shoe in the running of the Kentucky Derby and was a little banged up, but was no worse for the wear Sunday morning, according to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. No definite plans have been made for his next start.
“He came out well soundness wise,” Joseph said via text. “He got a few cuts front and back. No race in mind at the moment. We’ll see how he is in 7-10 days and then go from there.”
NECKER ISLAND – Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scheer and Will Harbut Racing’s Necker Island walked the shedrow at trainer Chris Hartman’s barn Sunday morning following his ninth-place Derby finish.
“He came back in good shape,” Hartman said. “I’ll wait three or four days before we start mapping out a race.”
MAJOR FED – Lloyd Madison Farm’s Major Fed cooled out well following Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“He has a couple of little nicks on him but he’s doing well,” said trainer Greg Foley, who stood alongside the homebred colt while he grazed. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“He had no business being up there where he was,” Foley said of Major Fed breaking sharply from the gate. “Bumper cars going into that first turn. I mean, he was a length off the lead. I don’t know if he was too fresh and broke like that and was down in there. That was the end of our chances. Everything had to go good for us. It didn’t. He came back good. He looks fine. He ate up. We’ll regroup in a little bit. He’s eligible for a ‘one other than’ (first-level allowance). That’s about where he’ll show up next. Go from there. He’ll look pretty good in that.”
SOLE VOLANTE – Reeves Thoroughbreds and Andie Biancone’s Sole Volante was heading back to his South Florida base after finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby.
“He’s fine, he’s good,” said Andie Biancone, who is also assistant to her father Patrick Biacone and the regular exercise rider for the gelding. “He obviously took a lot of dirt in his face, but he scoped clean. We’re happy and proud of him. He’ll probably get a break now and maybe go back to the turf.”
WINNING IMPRESSION – Trainer Dallas Stewart reported Winning Impression came out of the Kentucky Derby in good shape Sunday morning.
MONEY MOVES – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who was overseeing the care of Money Moves on behalf of his former protégé Todd Pletcher, said the colt emerged from his 13th-place finish in good order and was slated to ship back to New York on Tuesday.
ATTACHMENT RATE –Trainer Dale Romans reported via text everything was well Sunday morning with Attachment Rate.
SOUTH BEND – South Bend was reported to be unaffected by wear after finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby. The Bill Mott-trained colt was attempting to give his conditioner back-to-back victories in the classic after Country House was elevated to the win last year via disqualification.
“He was fine. He made a bit of a middle move around the turn and into the head of the stretch but it just wasn’t his day,” assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy said.