(Trainer Bob Baffert / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security – As he did five years earlier with American Pharoah following his Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic triumph at Keeneland, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert brought his newest winner, Authentic, out of the barn Sunday morning for an impromptu photo session.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions there were only about a dozen people on hand to see Baffert’s fourth Classic winner. Baffert was every bit as upbeat, though, as he talked about his chestnut Kentucky Derby winner, who broke American Pharoah’s track record with a time of 1:59.19.
In front from gate to wire under jockey John Velazquez, Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing’s Authentic led the alphabetical finish of Baffert’s three Classic runners. Improbable, the 4yo co-owned by WinStar Farm, CHC Inc. and SF Racing, was second, 2 ¼ lengths behind his stablemate, while Gary and Mary West, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s 4yo Maximum Security checked in fifth in the 10-horse field.
It was the first time that a trainer had saddled the first two finishers in the Classic. Authentic was 4-1 in the wagering and paid $10.40 for the win.
Baffert said he is not sure whether Authentic will be retired to stud for 2021 at Spendthrift. He declined an opportunity to lobby for the colt, a lock to be the 3yo Champion Male, as the Horse of the Year, but said he belongs in the conversation.
“I think the way he ran in the Derby he vindicated himself after his beat – but he still ran a great race – in the Preakness,” Baffert said. “He’s just getting better, he’s maturing. I could just tell with the way he was training that he has caught up with these older horses. He’s just so quick. He’s fast. Johnny said he felt better than he ever has and he had trouble pulling him up. He came back like it was nothing. He’s a great horse. He’s filling out.”
Improbable and Maximum Security made their final starts Saturday and headed into retirement: Improbable to WinStar Farm and Maximum Security to Ashford Stud.
Baffert said Maximum Security had been unable to regain the top form that made him a five-time Grade 1 winner but said that Improbable had turned in a terrific performance.
“I was proud of the way they ran,” he said. “They were training well. Down deep I knew I was going to win it with one of them. I wasn’t sure (which one), when you come in loaded like that. It would have been nice to run 1-2-3 and it would have been horrible not to win with the three. I was thinking about that all the time.”
Authentic delivered for Baffert, just as he had in the Derby and was able to grab an unpressured early lead. Chastened by the runner-up finish to Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness on Oct. 3, Velazquez rode more aggressively and kept the quirky colt busy on the front end.
“That Authentic is serious. He’s a great horse,” Baffert said. “What he did yesterday – that was a great field – and he just ran away from that field. Improbable is a really good horse. Turning for home, I thought that Improbable was going to kick in there and that Authentic caught another gear and he was gone.”
Overall, Baffert has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic four times, all with 3-year-olds. In addition to Authentic and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, he won the race with Bayern in 2014 and Arrogate in 2016.
Tiz the Law – Sackatoga Stable’s 3yo colt Tiz the Law, a well-beaten sixth in the Classic, was fine Sunday morning trainer Barclay Tagg said.
Sent off as the 3-1 favorite from post two, Tiz the Law was stuck on the inside under jockey Manny Franco and never mounted a serious challenge to Authentic, who had beaten him by 1 ¼ lengths in the Kentucky Derby.
“(Franco) said he was rank on him,” Tagg said, before leaving for Florida early Sunday morning. “The winner was rank and he should have just followed him around. I had him ready to run, but I can’t ride for them.”
Tiz the Law’s connections had recognized that having to start close to the rail might present a problem for the New York-bred son of Constitution. The Classic was the worst performance of Tiz the Law’s career and the first time he did not finish in the top three.
“Obviously, we were disappointed and kind of shocked that he didn’t end up better than he did,” Sackatoga’s operating manager Jack Knowlton said. “An inside trip was a concern. There were a lot of people when they saw the draw automatically said, ‘that’s a problem for this horse.’ When you are in the two-hole it’s awful hard to put yourself in a place where you can get outside of horses. Maybe that’s the story. I don’t think being on the rail was the ideal place.
“You’re not going to get what you want every time if they are in enough races. I guess it was our turn to not get the good trip. We won three Grade 1s and were second in the biggest race for 3-year-olds and he had the trip every time.”
Knowlton said Tiz the Law will be shipped to Tagg’s barn at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida on Wednesday. The goal is to have him ready for the Pegasus World Invitational Cup (G1) on Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park.
United – Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella reported that multiple graded stakes winner United was in good order Sunday morning after taking an awkward step during his eighth-place finish in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“I was worried about that, but we just got him out and jogged him and both of them (United and Turf Sprint runner Bombard) are in great shape,” Mandella said. “They both kind of fumbled around on that turf course. Must be my training.”
Monomoy Girl – Two-time Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl left trainer Brad Cox’s Keeneland barn shortly after 6 a.m. and made the 15-minute drive across town to Fasig-Tipton Co.’s auction house where she is scheduled to sell later Sunday.
Monomoy improved her 2020 record to a perfect four for four with her Distaff victory, which was made even more remarkable by the fact that she had missed all of 2019 because of various minor ailments. In 2018, she capped a championship season that included the Kentucky Oaks and four other stakes with her first Distaff win.
“To be honest, it was a relief when she won,” Cox said. “I don’t why, but there’s just a lot of pressure with her, but she’s never let us down.”
When asked if Monomoy Girl should be considered for Horse of the Year, Cox said yes.
“She’s done nothing wrong,” Cox said. “There’s obviously some very good horses out there that have accomplished a lot this year and yesterday. Ultimately, that’s up to the voters. Who knows, maybe, depending on who buys her, you could see her again this year and maybe even next. I don’t know where. I’ll know a lot more later tonight. It will be exciting. It’s like we’ve been through two days of Breeders’ Cup and now we have to go through (the sale) with her.
“She looked great out of the race, I’m telling you she really looked amazing. I really have no clue what is going to happen (at the sales.)”
Cox said he, along with family and friends, celebrated his four overall Breeders’ Cup win over the weekend at a local Japanese restaurant and that he was home by 9. His plans are to return to his Churchill base to saddle horses in races there before returning to Lexington for the sale.
“We just have to keep our heads down and keep going, continue doing what we’re doing,” Cox said. I told someone this morning that we have to start preparing for Breeders’ Cup 2021.”
“This was an amazing weekend of racing,” Cox said. “Very happy for our staff, our owners and our clients. Very happy and proud. Our horses showed up and ran their races.”
In addition to the Distaff, Cox won the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Aunt Pearl (IRE), TVG Juvenile with Essential Quality and the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile with Knicks Go.
“I mean I’ve been a huge fan of racing. I love racing and I’ve kept up with it since I was a young kid,” Cox said. “Really growing up Breeders’ Cup weekend, Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Preakness weekend, those are highlights where I can look back at the tremendous horses who won those races and I can almost remember where I was at watching on TV. But it was an amazing weekend.”
Valiance – The runner-up in the Longines Distaff departed Keeneland at 6 a.m. for the 10-mile van ride across Lexington to Fasig-Tipton where she will be offered for sale this afternoon or early evening.
The 4yo Tapit filly was purchased by current owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Martin Schwartz for $650,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2017 sale of selected yearlings in Saratoga Springs, New York. Breeder China Horse Club then bought back in. For the partnership she has earned $809,575 with a 9-6-1-0 record that includes her triumph in Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster on Oct. 4.
Whitmore – Sprint winner Whitmore, who was making his fourth start in the race, was back in his Churchill stall not long after the Breeders’ Cup races concluded and enjoyed some hydrotherapy in an equine spa Sunday morning. He’ll stay at Churchill for about a week before leaving to have his normal vacation at Rebecca Maker’s farm in Versailles, Kentucky, according to trainer and co-owner Ron Moquett. As long as the horse continues to show he wants to run, the Pleasantly Perfect gelding will race again next year at age 8.
“That was awesome,” Moquett said. “It’s always fun when you are a big fan of a horse and they win. It’s even better when you are a fan and their trainer. Laura (Moquett, wife and assistant) said he was cooled out by the time they got to the test barn.”
When asked who was more tired this morning, him or the horse, Moquett said it was probably him.
“I stayed up late last night responding to texts from people congratulating me. They may not even like me, but they like the horse. I had texts from (Richard) Mandella, (Bob) Baffert, (Steve) Asmussen, (Todd) Pletcher, (Nick) Zito and (D. Wayne) Lukas. I’m so proud that Whitmore’s touched those guys because they know something about a good horse.”
Whitmore was unplaced in 2017, second in 2018 and third the Sprint in 2019.
Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile
Knicks Go – Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go remained perfect in 2020 with his third straight victory, taking the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The 9-5 favorite used his front-running style to defeat a talented full field by 3 ½ lengths. Trainer Brad Cox said he came out of the race well and could race again next year, although a firm decision has not been made yet.
“He’s a very good horse, so consistent,” Cox said. “He’s very aggressive in his training. He puts a lot into his training and his works. He’s a really good horse. You just have to let him roll. Obviously, that’s what he’s liked doing this year, getting to the lead and utilizing his speed. He put them away around the turn and he was geared down late. He ran hard. I was very proud of him. He’s a neat horse to be around. He’s not a big horse, but he’s stout.”
Jesus’ Team – Grupo 7 C Stable’s Jesus’ Team will head to Florida Monday afternoon following his runner-up effort in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Saturday.
“I am very happy and very proud of him; he ran huge,” trainer Jose D’Angelo said of Jesus’ Team who went off at odds of 62-1, the longest shot in the field of 12.
Saturday’s performance capped a stellar run for the 3yo son of Tapiture who was running for a $25,000 claiming tag six months ago and now has two Grade 1 placings in his past two starts.
“He likes quiet surroundings and he is going to go to Ocala for a week,” D’Angelo said. “Then, maybe, we might look at the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Dec. 5.”
Filly & Mary Sprint
Gamine – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has handled many top horses, but he said Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) winner Gamine is a standout among the stars.
“I’ve never seen one like her,” he said Sunday. “Since I’ve been training, I’ve never seen one as fast as her.”
The Into Mischief 3yo filly owned by Michael Lund Petersen won by 6 ¼ lengths with a track-record time of 1:20.20 for 7f under jockey John Velazquez. She came out of the race well, Baffert said, and will compete next year.
Though Baffert won the Classic with Authentic, he said Gamine’s victory was especially satisfying because she had had two postrace positives for traces of legal therapeutic medicine that cannot be in a horse’s system on race day.
“I was so proud of her,” he said. “To me, that was the most important horse. That’s the horse I wanted to win so badly because of what she’s gone through. She’s a sweet horse, just a brilliant filly.
“I was nervous for her in the paddock. I told Johnny, ‘With all your experience, we need to get this filly away from there.’ Boy, when she turned for home, wow, she put those afterburners on and just took off. She’s maturing too. Yesterday she was a perfect, she just ran as straight as a string. Usually she will get out a little bit, but she was beautiful yesterday. Just brilliant.”
Leinster – Plans will be discussed in the coming days for Leinster, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, beaten a length by Glass Slippers (GB).
“I will talk it over with the owners,” trainer Rusty Arnold said of the partnership of Amy Dunne, Brenda Miley, Westrock Stables and Jean Wilkinson. “Maybe he can follow the path of (Sprint winner) Whitmore and run in the Breeders’ Cup four years in a row.”
Seventh in the Turf Sprint last year at Santa Anita, Leinster raced close to the pace but was overtaken late by Glass Slippers and Wet Your Whistle while saving the show spot by a head over Extravagant Kid.
“You look at the chart at the top five early in the race and he was the only one to get a piece of it,” Arnold said. “I was very happy with his performance.”
Bill Mott (Tacitus, Classic; Channel Maker, Turf; Horologist, Distaff, Harvey’s Lil Goil, Filly & Mare Turf) – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott reported all his charges came out of their respective Breeders’ Cup efforts in good shape Sunday morning.
“Some little nicks and bruises but nothing serious,” Mott said of his contingent.
Mott saddled Harvey’s Lil Goil to a third-place finish in the Filly & Mare Turf and also sent Channel Maker out to claim show money in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Channel Maker was the highest finishing North American-based horse in the Turf and, coupled with his Grade 1 wins in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Sword Dancer, could be in line for divisional honors when Eclipse Award balloting takes place.
Though he didn’t prevail in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus still acquitted himself in admirable fashion to finish fourth. With more than $3.2 million in earnings, Mott says the door is open for Tacitus to return for a 5yo campaign.
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t. What else would you do with him? He’s only 4,” Mott said. “There is no reason he couldn’t improve. We keep saying that about him. But he ran a credible race yesterday, it wasn’t bad.”
It was a quiet morning in the Quarantine Section of Rice Road for the European runners who turned Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup grass races into their own personal playground. All the entrants came out of their races well.
The afternoon started with the victory by Bearstone Stud Limited’s Glass Slippers (GB) in the Turf Sprint (G1).
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” said jockey Tom Eaves, who recorded his first Breeders’ Cup victory. “Best day of my career.”
James Fanshawe was “still on cloud nine” following the victory by Audarya (FR) in the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf (G1). She was Fanshawe’s first Breeders’ Cup starter.
In the FanDuel Mile presented by PDJF (G1), trainer Aiden O’Brien swept the top three spots withOrder of Australia (IRE), Circus Maximus (IRE) and Lope Y Fernandez (IRE).
“The horses are all grand. They did us all proud,” said Pat Keating, traveling head man for O’Brien.