Baffert sets Authentic Preakness target

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Authentic Kentucky Derby Winner
Sep 5, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Jockey John Velazquez pours water on Authentic (18) after winning the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After winning a record-equalling sixth Kentucky Derby trainer Bob Baffert will aim Churchill Downs winner Authentic at next months’ Preakness Stakes.

The rescheduled Preakness takes place at Pimlico on October 3rd, being the final leg of the Triple Crown in the reshaped 2020 racing calendar.

Baffert has landed the Preakness Stakes on seven occasions in his illustrious career, most recently with Justify in 2018.

Authentic and Thousand Words – a late withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby – will both get the Preakness as their next targets.

“Authentic, he came back, he looked in really good shape [on Sunday],” Baffert said of the Kentucky Derby winner. “He looked like he’s still full of energy.

“Thousand Words, we went over to him and he was fine. So right now, the plan, if everything goes well, they’re going to stay here and then run in the Preakness.”

John Velazquez got Authentic into the lead in the ‘Run for the Roses’ despite an awkward draw. They led the field into the home turn where it appeared as though hot-favourite and Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law was going to loom alongside and possibly go by.

However, a second leg of the Triple Crown alluded Barclay Tagg’s runner as Authentic showcased his tough nature out in front and won their duel in the home stretch.

Winner of Monmouth Park’s Haskell Stakes in July, Authentic is now a dual Grade 1 winner and taking the scalp of a horse boasting Tiz The Law’s quality wasn’t lost on Baffert.

“It was a great race,” Baffert added. “The horse couldn’t have run a better race. To beat a horse like Tiz The Law, it was really phenomenal.”

Thousand Words never made the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby. The colt flipped in the paddock before the race, leaving Baffert’s assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes with a broken wrist as he did, and was duly withdrawn from the contest.

He was assessed by the vet on course afterwards and declared to be none the worse for his mishap. Baffert is eager to see him get ‘another chance’ in the Preakness assuming there are no setbacks in between.

“Thousand Words, I’m trying to get him (to Pimlico) and give him another chance,” Baffert said. “It was unfortunate. Right now, all systems are go as far as the Preakness if he looks healthy.

“Knock on wood somewhere that they stay healthy. That’s the main key.”

Authentic’s success at Churchill Downs means Baffert has tied the benchmark of six Kentucky Derby wins achieved by Ben Jones from 1938-1952. Baffert has now won three of the last six renewals with Triple Crown heroes American Pharoah (2015) and Justify having preceded Authentic.