AUTHENTIC proved he is the real deal with a powerful front-running 2 ¼-length victory against stablemate IMPROBABLE in the $6 million dollar Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
The Kentucky Derby Winner was outdueled by the brilliant filly SWISS SKYDIVER in the Preakness Stakes, which was the final leg of this year’s pandemic-muddled Triple Crown.
But he rebounded strongly to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his 4th Classic Victory and 17th Breeders’ Cup Win overall. Earlier on Saturday, Baffert prevailed in the Filly and Mare Sprint when GAMINE smashed the track record.
John Velazquez, 48, the all-time leader in earnings among jockeys with more than $425 million, gained the breakthrough Victory he had yearned for with his first Classic Triumph.
He had succeeded in numerous other Breeders’ Cup races, ranking 2nd to Mike Smith with 17 Victories and over $28 million in purses, and yet the BC Classic– the centerpiece of the season-culminating event, had been maddeningly elusive.
“For me, it’s incredible. God, what a feeling. I don’t know what to say,” he told NBC as he and AUTHENTIC made their way to the Winner’s circle.
Baffert, who is based in Southern California, is grateful he reached out to the opposite coast to tap Velazquez to ride AUTHENTIC, a colt he described as quirky.
“Johnny really knows him well,” Baffert said. “Once he got him in that rhythm, he’s just getting better and better. He’s caught up with the older horses. He’s just an unbelievable horse.”
“It worked out perfect,” Velazquez said. “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.”
AUTHENTIC Won for the fifth time in seven starts this season. The Winner’s share of $3.3 million dollars spiked his career earnings to $6,371,200.
With his commanding BC Classic Victory, he seemingly locked up the Eclipse Award as 3-year-old Champion and almost surely will bring home Horse of the Year honors as well.
“He sealed the deal. It’s not a fluke,” Baffert said. “He’s the best horse in America.”