In the days leading up to Saturday’s 145th Preakness, usracing.com will be publishing profiles of the 11 horses entered in 2020’s final leg of the Triple Crown.
By Ed McNamara
Before the Derby, many alleged experts (including me) considered Authentic a talented front-runner but immature and unlikely to stay 1 1/4 miles. His trainer disagreed, expressing confidence he could get the distance.
Guess who was right? Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bob Baffert, master of all things Triple Crown.
A brilliant ride by John Velazquez gave Baffert his record-tying sixth Derby. Authentic dislodged Derby runner-up Tiz the Law from the top spot in the NTRA 3-year-old poll and will be favored to give Baffert his record eighth Preakness. He’s 5-for-5 at Pimlico with a Derby winner.
Authentic looked stronger than ever Sept. 19 at Churchill Downs, where he zipped 5 furlongs in 59.20 seconds, the fastest of 38 works at the distance. On Monday, he worked 4 furlongs in 47.60 at Churchill, the fastest of 37 at the distance.
“It went very well,” Baffert said. “Martin [Garcia] didn’t have to move on him. He couldn’t have looked better, coming off a race like that. Everything is all systems go for the Preakness.”
There’s no way Authentic ever again will be disregarded at 8-1, as he was in the Derby. He’s the horse to beat at a track Baffert owns.
Post position: No. 9
Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Career record: 6-5-1-0
Career earnings: $2,871,200
Top Equibase speed figure: 113
Pedigree: Into Mischief-Flawless, by Mr. Greeley
Running style: Front-runner
Notes: Baffert’s seven Preakness wins came with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Lookin At Lucky (2010), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018). He’s tied with Robert Wyndham Walden (1844-1905), whose last victory in Maryland’s signature race came in 1888. Walden holds one record that even Baffert won’t break. He won the Preakness five consecutive times from 1878-82.
|2||Mr. Big News||Gabriel Saez||12-1|
|3||Art Collector||Brian Hernandez Jr.||5-2|
|4||Swiss Skydiver||Robby Albarado||6-1|
|5||Thousand Words||Florent Geroux||6-1|
|6||Jesus’ Team||Jevian Toledo||30-1|
|7||NY Traffic||Horacio Karamanos||15-1|
|8||Max Player||Paco Lopez||15-1|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.