For Derby Winner Authentic, ‘All Systems Go’ for Preakness

September 19th, 2020

Authentic Works Five Furlongs, Thousand Words “Steady” in Work

LOUISVILLE— Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic had his first major training session Saturday morning to prepare for the 145th Preakness Stakes (G1), working five-eighths of a mile in 59.20 seconds at Churchill Downs. Jockey Martin Garcia filled in for John Velazquez, who won his third Kentucky Derby while riding Authentic for the first time.

The once-beaten Authentic led all the way Sept. 5 through a swift pace to beat favored Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz the Law by 1 1/4 lengths, the 2:00.61 time was one of the fastest in Derby history while giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby.

Owned by Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables, Authentic now will try to make his trainer 6-for-6 in the Preakness Stakes with a Derby winner. Baffert owns a record-tying seven Preaknesses overall, with 2001 beaten Derby favorite Point Given regrouping to win two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

Going to the track at 9 a.m. after the second renovation break, Authentic was timed by the Churchill Downs clockers in splits of 23.80 for a quarter-mile and 35.40 for three-eighths, then hitting six furlongs past the wire in 1:12.20 (for what the clockers considered part of the gallop-out) and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:25.20. The official 59.20 time was the fastest of 38 at the distance at Churchill throughout the morning.

“It went very well. Martin has been with me,” trainer Bob Baffert of Garcia, whose victory aboard Lookin At Lucky in the 2010 Preakness is one of Baffert’s seven. “He knows what I expect. I told him we’re going to go three-quarters from the five (five-eighths pole), and he just went off, didn’t have to move on him. This horse, he gets over any track. He couldn’t have looked better, coming off a race like that. Everything is all systems go for the Preakness. Got a nice work out of him. I’ll come back, give him an easier work next week and he should be ready to go.”

Authentic’s only defeat in six starts was a second to Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The son of the Spendthrift Farm stallion Into Mischief won Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational (G1) by a nose in his race before the Derby

Baffert planned to return to the Keeneland sales in Lexington after Saturday’s works by Authentic and stablemate Thousand Words, who was scratched from the Derby after flipping in the paddock. The Hall of Fame trainer said he’ll return to Churchill Downs for their final Preakness workouts. 

The horses are scheduled to be on the Tex Sutton Forwarding Company equine charter (nicknamed Air Horse One) flying from Louisville to Baltimore on Tuesday Sept. 29.

With jockey Florent Geroux up for the first time, Thousand Words worked what trainer Bob Baffert termed a seven-furlong work. The Churchill Downs clockers timed it as a five-furlong work, with Thousand Words galloping out the seven-eighths in 1:27.80. Starting out slowly, Thousand Words was clocked in eighth-mile splits of 13.40, 25.80, 60.60 and hitting five-furlongs in 1:02.40, while recording gallop out times around the turn of 1:14.60 and the 1:27.80.

“He’s not a real good work horse,” Baffert said. “I usually have him in company, and today I had him by himself. He’s just a steady kind of horse. Distance is his friend. Flo got to know him today, and I think he’s going to work him back this week. Now he knows the horse a little bit better. But it was fine. I like the way he actually finished up. He started picking it up the last part. I worked him seven-eighths today. That’s him. He’ll never wow you in the mornings. Just steady. He’s funny in that if you try to rush him early, he gets discouraged.”

Geroux was supposed to ride Thousand Words in the Kentucky Derby. But the $1 million yearling purchase acted up in the paddock and flipped, sending assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes to the ground, where he fractured his wrist trying to brace himself. (Thousand Words was scratched, which is why Geroux had never been on his back until the workout.)

A half-hour later, Baffert had his record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby victory with Authentic.

“It felt like we went to hell and back in 30 minutes, a friend told me,” Baffert said. “The emotions. Racing will do that to you. We went from being emotionally the low to all of a sudden, 20 minutes later, we’re on a super high — we win the Kentucky Derby. Every year there’s always something new that happens to me. A thousand things can go wrong. And with Thousand Words, that’s the first time I’ve ever had a horse that I had to scratch him for saddling. Ever in my life. And I’ve run thousands and thousands of quarter horses and Thoroughbreds and never had won scratched in the paddock.”

For the record, Baffert through Friday had 13,429 Thoroughbred starters.

Owned by Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm, Thousand Words earned his shot at the Kentucky Derby by upsetting Honor A.P. in Del Mar’s Shared Belief Stakes.

Thousand Words’ mishap and the fact that Barnes was headed to the emergency room instead of the Derby winner’s circle clearly weighs on Baffert.

“I really thought Thousand Words could have gotten a piece of it,” he said. “He was doing really, really well. But he got upset. He just got mad in the paddock. That’s why he blew up like that. I felt bad for the Albaugh family, who owns half the horse. He was coming off a big win. Everything was looking great. He was going to run a big race, and then that happens to him. The excitement of being able to be ready to run in a race like that, and then you get scratched. I felt really bad for them. And Jimmy getting hurt, that was just horrible.

 “But Jimmy is doing fine now. He got his arm patched up. He had a great surgeon who patched him up. He’s actually in pretty good spirits.”