Bob Baffert was delighted after watching Authentic go through his first piece of major work ahead of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
The Kentucky Derby hero covered a five-furlong stretch in 59.20 seconds at Churchill Downs with Martin Garcia in the saddle on Saturday morning.
Authentic has only tasted defeated once in his career but he was not expected to turn over odds-on favourite Tiz The Law in the ‘Run for the Roses’.
However, under a front-running ride from John Velazquez, Authentic was determined and strong in the home stretch to give Baffert a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby victory in his career, repelling the late challenge of Manny Franco and Tiz The Law for trainer Barclay Tagg.
Next stop is Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes on October 3rd. Baffert has won the Preakness with all six of his previous Kentucky Derby scorers, while 2001 beaten Derby favourite Point Given rebounded to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, completing two-thirds of the Triple Crown.
Rider Garcia has a long association with the Baffert stable and the Hall of Fame trainer had no qualms with him being on board for this important workout.
“He knows what I expect,” Baffert said. “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.”
Authentic meanwhile impressed his trainer and the colt couldn’t be in better shape coming out of his ultra-impressive Classic success at the start of this month.
“This horse, he gets over any track,” Baffert added. “He couldn’t have looked better, coming off a race like that [in the Derby]. 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 reverse in six starts so far came when he was second to Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby before he won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on his final start before the Derby.
Stablemate Thousand Words was a late scratch from the Kentucky Derby after getting worked up while being saddled for the race.
He came out on veterinary advice but is doing well and looks likely to take his chance in the Preakness alongside Authentic. Baffert felt he could have played a part in the finish at Churchill Downs too, had things gone to plan.
“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.
“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.”