(Authentic / Coady Photography)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
Although a single trophy eluded him, Bob Baffert’s Santa Anita-based stable nonetheless dominated Thursday night’s 2020 Eclipse Awards ceremony, taking home four Eclipse trophies, including Horse of the Year, thus further cementing Baffert’s status as America’s premier racing figure. Thursday evening’s ceremony, which was hosted by Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, KY, was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A two-time Triple Crown Champion trainer, Baffert led all North American-based stables with an incredible 16 Grade I victories and he finished third on the 2020 money-won list with earnings of $18,923,887. What made this accomplishment so extraordinary was that Baffert had but 323 starts, compared to earnings leader Steve Asmussen ($20,204,064 from 2,278 starts), and earnings runner-up Brad Cox ($18,983,832 from 903 starts).
Although Baffert’s year-end achievements were tremendous by any measure, he did not win his fifth Eclipse Award as Champion Trainer for 2020, that honor went to Brad Cox, but Baffert’s Authentic did provide the white-haired wonder with his fourth career Horse of the Year Champion.
A winner of Santa Anita’s Grade III Sham Stakes in his second start on Jan. 4, Authentic then won the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 7 and finished second in a COVID-delayed Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on June 6. From there, he shipped to Monmouth Park and prevailed by a nose in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on July 18.
Following his narrow win in the Haskell, Baffert steadfastly maintained that Authentic was capable of much better, and he proved it on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, as he won the Grade I Kentucky Derby by an emphatic 1 ¼ lengths–thus providing Baffert with his sixth win in the Run for the Roses, tying him with Calumet Farm’s legendary Ben Jones as the all-time leading Derby trainer.
Second, beaten a neck by wonder filly Swiss Skydiver in the Grade I Preakness Stakes Oct. 3, Baffert had Authentic primed for a tremendous performance in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7, as he powered to a 2 ¼ length win under aggressive handling from John Velazquez, thus cinching his claim to Horse of the Year honors.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, LLC and Starlight Racing, Authentic, a Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless, won five of his seven starts in 2020 while earning $7,170,000.
Authentic also took Champion 3-year-old honors, while Baffert’s Improbable, runner-up to Authentic in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, was named Champion Older Horse.
Owned by WinStar Farm, LLC, CHC, Inc. and SF Racing, Inc., Improbable won three Grade I stakes in 2020; the Hollywood Gold Cup on June 6 at Santa Anita, the Whitney on Aug. 1 at Saratoga and the Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept. 26.
Baffert’s lightning quick filly Gamine was voted Eclipse Champion Female Sprinter as she won four of her six starts for owner Michael Lund Petersen. A first-out maiden winner at Santa Anita on March 7, Gamine, a 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief out of the Kafwain mare Peggy Jane, then went on to take three Grade I stakes; the Acorn on June 20 at Belmont Park, the Test at Saratoga on Aug. 8 and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland Nov. 7.
With his four newly minted Eclipse trophies in-hand, Baffert, 68, has now accounted for a record 32 Eclipse Awards, surpassing fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who has 30.