Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had two of his unbeaten Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls in Saturday’s $401,000 San Felipe (G2), but only one kept his perfect record intact at Santa Anita. Authentic, the 6-5 favorite, sped to the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, while stablemate Thousand Words backpedaled in fourth.
Authentic was coming off a front-running tour de force in the Sham (G3), where he raced erratically once well ahead in the stretch. The Into Mischief colt again proved too quick for his foes in the San Felipe, but a new set of earplugs helped him to maintain his professionalism to the wire.
Despite bobbling when the gate opened and getting away awkwardly, Authentic was right back into stride to seize command from Storm the Court, who was hustling on the outside, and Thousand Words. With regular rider Drayden Van Dyke at the controls, Authentic was in his comfort zone as he led the way through solid fractions.
Honor A. P. uncorked a bold rally entering the stretch, but Authentic merely kicked away again to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths. By covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.56, he banked 50 more Derby points. His overall total of 60, including 10 from the Sham, propelled him past the 54 points amassed by Fountain of Youth (G2) romper Ete Indien.
As the clear runner-up in his stakes debut off a layoff, Honor A. P. enhanced his Derby credentials while earning 20 points. Storm the Court had to settle for third, another 3 1/2 lengths back, adding 10 points to increase his haul to 32.
Thousand Words was the disappointment of the race in a distant fourth, and Baffert said that he probably wants to be ridden from further off the pace. With 5 more points in his account, Thousand Words has 35 in all. The rest of the field was strung out as well, with Wrecking Crew, Fort McHenry, and the long-way last Swagsational rounding out the order of finish.
Campaigned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John D. Fielding, and Golconda Stables, Authentic is now 3-for-3 with $331,200 in earnings. The bay debuted in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint at Del Mar Nov. 9, made his stakes and two-turn debut in the Sham, and continued his progress here.
Baffert indicated that Authentic would point to the April 4 Santa Anita Derby (G1).
“He’s a special horse and this was probably one of the toughest prep races that we’ve seen so far,” he told Santa Anita publicity.
“I don’t want to give my secret away (about the earplugs). That’s what calmed American Pharoah down. He was the same way; some horses are just really delicate to sound, so we put em’ in it and it seemed like it worked.
“I don’t like to compare my horses – one race at a time. We still have a long way to go, but what I saw today, you want to see him doing it as easy as he did. He looked like he was enjoying himself out there. I have to just keep him at this level until the first Saturday in May.”