breeders’-cup:-an-authentic-and-classic-victory

LEXINGTON, Ky. — From start to finish, Authentic left no doubt he was the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

His dominant performance on another big stage should also end the debate about this year’s top 3-year-old, strange as the season has been because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Authentic won the Classic in the same fashion he took the rescheduled Kentucky Derby two months ago, going wire-to-wire for a 2¼-length victory over Improbable that gave trainer Bob Baffert a 1-2 finish on a warm, sunny fall Saturday at Keeneland.

And perhaps erased Baffert’s regret over Authentic’s narrow runner-up finish to filly Swiss Skydiver in last month’s Preakness, also shifted to the fall because of the pandemic.

“He just struggled that day,” Baffert said, “but we got him back and I’ve got a great team and we just tightened the screws on him.

“He’s just matured. He’s maturing right now and this … is the time of the year they catch up.”

There wasn’t any catching up to Authentic on Saturday as he broke quickly out of the No. 9 gate between stablemates and set the pace for the 10-horse field to follow. Maximum Security, last year’s 3-year-old champion, pursued for a while before Global Security overtook him and then was passed by Improbable entering the stretch.

Authentic, at 9-2, never let up with John Velazquez aboard and extended his lead by the end.

“I didn’t think it was that much speed in the race, other than the other horse that Bob had on outside,” said the Hall of Fame jockey, referring to Maximum Security. “And I thought we were going to be quicker than him anyway.

“Once we got in front and I passed the wire for the first time, I mean, it was pretty easy from there, yeah.”

Authentic earned his fifth win with two seconds in seven starts this year, strengthening his case as the year’s top 3-year-old. The victory bookended a successful day for Baffert, whose filly Gamine opened the $31 million season-ending world championships with a dominant, record-setting win in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint.

Both horses will certainly be named in any Eclipse Award discussion, and Baffert’s bias for Authentic was obvious.

“There was a lot on the line,” he said. “What he did today was pretty amazing.”

Authentic covered 1¼ miles in 1:59.19 – breaking the track record of 2:00.07 set by another Baffert horse, American Pharoah, in 2015 – and paid $10.40, $5.40 and $4.20.

Authentic joins American Pharoah, Unbridled (1990) and Sunday Silence (1989) as the only horses to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year.

Improbable returned $4.80 and $3.30 while Global Campaign paid $8.80.

“I had a good trip, a perfect trip,” Improbable jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. “I had him in the clear. He just got beat. It was a great race.”

Global Campaign, under jockey Javier Castellano, was coming off back-to-back wins, including the Grade I Woodward Handicap at Saratoga in September. He came in with 25-1 odds and finished one length behind Improbable.

“This horse has been through a lot in his career,” trainer Stanley Hough said of oft-injured Global Campaign. “We got his foot problems behind him and today was the first time he was really able to show his potential. We are so proud of him and he ran a great race.”

The 4-year-old Tacitus finished fourth ahead of Maximum Security and 3-1 favorite Tiz the Law.

“I was expecting a hot pace and to pick up the pieces and close and have a shot to win the race,” Tacitus jockey Jose Ortiz said. “I was expecting a fast fight. It didn’t happen that way, but he ran really, really good.”

Title Ready, By My Standards, Tom’s d’Etat, and Higher Power rounded out the order of finish.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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