(Authentic / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said any one of his three runners could take him to the winner’s circle after the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Baffert said Thursday after Authentic, Improbable and Maximum Security galloped 1 ½m at Keeneland. “I wouldn’t be surprised by any of them.”
In his last three starts, Authentic, owned by Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing has won the Haskell, the Kentucky Derby and finished second in the Preakness, making him a top contender for the 3yo male title. The 4yo Improbable, owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing, has won three Grade 1 races in a row, the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Whitney and the Awesome Again, and is the 5-2 favorite. He is a top contender for the older male divisional title. Gary and Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Maximum Security, was the 3yo champ in 2019. Since being moved to Baffert’s care earlier this year, he and won the San Diego and Pacific Classic and finished second to improbable in the Awesome Again. He, too, is a contender for the older male title. A victory in the Classic by any one of the three could lead to the Horse of the Year award.
“I could see all three of them hitting the board. But they’ve got to get the trip,” Baffert said. “The only pressure I feel is that they are three good horses and they should be right there. Every time I’ve come into the Breeders’ Cup where I have had horses that should be right there, they are right there. I feel real good about that.”
Baffert trained Maximum Security’s sire, New Year’s Day, to win the 2013 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. He received the 4yo colt, winner of the inaugural Saudi Cup this spring after trainer Jason Servis was arrested for his alleged involvement in doping horses. Baffert and his crew had to learn how to handle the accomplished runner and develop a training program.
“He’s very deceiving. He reminds me a lot of Silver Charm,” Baffert said. “Silver Charm was very tough. I could work him with a $30,000 maiden claimer or a stakes horse and he would outwork them by a nose. That’s the way he was. He’s not going to give you any extra in the mornings. I can see why they ran him for maiden $16,000. But, one thing about him is that he has what Silver Charm had, something you can’t measure, and that’s his heart. He has heart galore.”
Baffert had pointed out Maximum Security as one of the horses to beat in the 2019 Kentucky Derby – a race that he finished first in, but was disqualified for interference – but came to appreciate the colt’s grit in his first start for his barn, the San Diego July 25.
“Turning for home he had every reason to get beat,” Baffert said. “For some reason I’m watching him, like ‘Let’s see. If you are a great horse you are going to get up.’ And he did. Great horses find a way to win.”
Baffert said that Maximum Security’s second in the Awesome Again might have unfairly hurt his reputation.
“He’s like the forgotten horse,” Baffert said. “He’s like ‘the other Baffert,’ but I think he’s going to be right there, too.”
Baffert describes Maximum Security as a strong and versatile runner.
“He’s fast,” Baffert said. “He’s not going to get in traffic. He’s going to be right there. He’s quick and he’s powerful and I really think he’s going to like this track. Santa Anita is a good track, but it’s deep. A heavy horse like that struggles with it. He seems to be going over this track. I like this track.”
By My Standards – After shipping in to Keeneland Wednesday, Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards put in a routine gallop around the Keeneland main track Thursday morning for trainer Bret Calhoun. The ultra-consistent son of Goldencents continues to impress his conditioner as he prepares for his toughest test yet, the Longines Classic.
“What’s impressive about him is that I think he’s been at his best for a long time and I think that goes back to before (winning) the Louisiana Derby. Two races before that, in a maiden race, he got beat and I couldn’t explain it. I was distraught and down about it thinking maybe I misjudged his ability. I didn’t know what to think, but then he came back and won the next maiden looking like the horse I thought. From that day on, it was like the light came on and he’s pretty much held that form and work pattern since. He’s definitely become physically stronger.”
Global Campaign – Sagamore Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Global Campaign “had a nice gallop” at Keeneland Thursday morning after arriving from Churchill Downs following training hours Wednesday.
Trainer Stanley Hough, who was scheduled to saddle two runners at Churchill Thursday afternoon, will make the Breeders’ Cup Classic scene at Keeneland Friday morning.
Hough, who started training in 1969 and is credited with more than 2,200 winners by Equibase, is very much enjoying his successful association with Sagamore during the past few years after stepping away from training a public stable in 2012.
“I never worked with a group that I’ve enjoyed more than with Sagamore. It’s been such a real pleasure,” Hough said. “It’s like a family. It really hasn’t been work. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Training Classic contenders such Global Campaign have added to the fun. The 4yo son of Curlin is coming off a front-running victory in the Woodward at Saratoga. Hough certainly doesn’t expect him to be able to employ the same tactics when he takes on the speedy likes of the Bob Baffert-trained Authentic and Maximum Security.
“The speed is outside us obviously. Each one of those horses would like to be in front, so I would hope to break good and follow them. I would like to not be too far back and not get shuffled back,” said Hough, whose Classic contender will break from the starting gate from post seven, two stalls inside Authentic and three inside Maximum Security. “I’m hoping to follow the speed, and I know everyone else is the same way.”
Hall of Famer jockey Javier Castellano is scheduled to ride Global Campaign for the first time Saturday.
Higher Power – Hronis Racing’s Higher Power galloped Thursday morning under Juan Leyva and had another paddock schooling session as part of his preparation for his second run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Higher Power will be looking to give Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler a second Breeders’ Cup Classic victory to go with the one Accelerate claimed in 2018 at Churchill Downs.
“That was a milestone victory for my career,” Sadler said of his first Breeders’ Cup winner that came with his 45th starter in the World Championships. “That was the narrative, and it got the monkey off my back. But we had run so many good races with horses that had run really well.”
Sadler’s runners have compiled an overall 50-1-4-8-4-4-5 mark in the Breeders’ Cup, an event Sadler first participated in back in 1988 when Olympic Prospect ran seventh in the mud at Churchill Downs.
“As I have gotten older, I am at the point where I don’t want to run a horse just to be here,” Sadler said.
Higher Power was 9-1 in the Classic last year when he finished third behind Vino Rosso. He is 20-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s running.
“He won’t be one of the favorites (like Accelerate was),” Sadler said. “But the way he is doing … I just have a gut feeling that he is going to run well.”
Tacitus – Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus continued his march toward the Longines Classic with an easy gallop of Keeneland’s main track on Thursday morning. Looking to be trainer Bill Mott’s third Classic winner, the son of Tacitus was piloted by exercise rider Felipe Castro. On Saturday, he reunites with longtime collaborator Jose Ortiz.
Title Ready – Charles Fipke’s Title Ready galloped for the first time Thursday at Keeneland after arriving from his Churchill Downs base Wednesday.
Tiz the Law – Veteran trainer Barclay Tagg chuckled Thursday morning after he delivered a comment that showed he was equally upbeat and nervous about Tiz the Law’s chances in the $6 million Classic.
“I’ve got confidence in the horse, but I don’t have confidence in the luck. A lot can happen in a race,” Tagg said. “It seems like he’s coming up to it well, so I’ve got no complaints.”
Tiz the Law went out for a routine 1 ½ m gallop Thursday with Heather Smullen. The 3yo New York-bred colt owned by Sackatoga Stable will start from post 2 in the field of 10 under Manny Franco in a race that Tagg has targeted for months. Tiz the Law won three straight Grade 1 races, the Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers. He was second as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 but was kept out of the Preakness to recover from some body soreness.
Tagg shipped him to Keeneland on Oct. 18 to give him two weeks of training time over the track. The Classic will be his first try against older horses.
“Manny knows him pretty well and this will be the toughest race of his life, by far,” Tagg said. “Just have to hope that everything goes well. I think he can handle it or I wouldn’t put him in there. But you never know. It doesn’t take much to get beat against horses like that.”
Sackatoga’s operating partner Jack Knowlton acknowledged that championships as well as purse money are on the line in the Classic. He said a victory could make the colt, purchased for $110,000 as a yearling, the Horse of the Year.
“You can think about that, but beyond that, if he doesn’t win, if he’s second or third and Authentic is off the board, at that point, that should lock up 3-year-old of the year,” Knowlton said. “It’s not all or nothing. We’ve really got two prizes that can possibly be attained and one of them does not require us to win the race. Obviously, we would love to win the race. It’s a hugely prestigious race and it’s a $6 million race. Sackatoga has got one Eclipse for 3-year-old and we’ve love to have another for 3-year-old. It’s nice to have a fall-back position in a race like this.
“The key is for Manny to find the right trip in there. If he can do that, I think this horse is going to be tough to beat.”
After training was completed, Knowlton, Tagg and Smullen headed to the Kentucky Horse Park to pay a visit to their first champion, Funny Cide. He won the 2003 crown after his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
“It’s always fun,” Knowlton said. “He’s himself and he doesn’t pay any more attention to me than he does anybody else.”
Tagg said that Funny Cide ignored him during his last visit.
“I called him and called him and he wouldn’t pick his head up,” Tagg said, laughing. “He didn’t even look. I rattled paper from treats. That was a while ago. I haven’t been back since.”
For Knowlton, visiting Funny Cide is a rite of spring. In upside-down 2020, he will see the 20yo twice later than usual.
“I never miss a year,” he said. “I saw him when I was here for Derby. it’s just one of the things on the must-do list every year when I come to the Derby, to go the Horse Park.”
Tom’s d’Etat – When Tom’s d’Etat made his first appearance at Keeneland just over a year ago, he used the Lexington oval to pad his resume with an achievement that — at the time — ranked as the career highlight for the star-crossed son of Smart Strike. On Thursday morning, the 7yo horse returned to the Keeneland main track with designs on once again earning an accolade that would dwarf any of his prior successes.
Having shipped over from Churchill Downs less than 24 hours earlier, Tom’s d’Etat got reacquainted with the Keeneland track for the first time since taking the Grade 2 Fayette last October when he galloped and visited the gate as he prepares for Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“Even though he’s an older horse, he was looking around and showing good energy, very fresh,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “As soon as he finished training I got a bunch of hits on my phone. Caton (Bredar) said a lot of very nice things about him on the (TVG) coverage — and I agree with what Caton said. He’s been acting like he knows what’s going on this week. He knows something’s coming up.”
That 4 ¼-length victory in the Fayette last fall marked the first graded stakes win for Tom’s d’Etat, no small feat given he had had much of his career interrupted because of ankle injuries and other setbacks. The lens of hindsight now views that Keeneland outing as a shot across the bow for the handicap ranks as Tom’s d’Etat would go on to capture the Grade 1 Clark in his subsequent outing before earning wins in the Oaklawn Mile and Stephen Foster this season.
“We considered maybe going to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile off the Woodward last year, but it was out at Santa Anita so we decided to stay home, and the spacing of the Fayette and the Clark was really nice,” Stall said. “We ended up being less than even money in both races I think and he showed what kind of horse he really was. As soon as he crossed the wire in the Clark, we knew where the Breeders’ Cup was 11 months later right here in our backyard.”
Though Tom’s d’Etat finished third to Improbable, the morning line favorite in the Classic, in the Whitney on Aug. 1, the bay horse got the better of that rival by three-quarters of a length when they first met in the Oaklawn Mile.