Authentic will bring speed to the Kentucky Derby. The Bob Baffert-trained colt remained unbeaten with a sharp front-running victory in Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, adding his second straight Derby qualifier, and Drayden Van Dyke rides the well-built son of Into Mischief.
“Beautiful trip,” Van Dyke said after the 2 1/4-length decision. “He took a little tiny stumble out of the gate, but it wasn’t enough to cost us. I was just in cruise control. I was seeing if anybody was going to test me to make me pick it up. I kept him going a few times, just to keep him focused, but he got off amazing and it seems like there’s more in the tank.”
Authentic quickly recovered after bobbling slightly at the break, sprinting forward to show the way into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile race. He recorded fractions of :22.84 and :46.71 while up by a length, and increased the advantage rounding the far turn, reaching the three-quarters mark in 1:11.32.
Honor A. P. rallied well off the far turn to reach a threatening position in midstretch, but Authentic had more in reserve and won comfortably, stopping the teletimer in 1:43.56. He left the starting gate as the 6-5 choice among seven runners.
Purchased for $350,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale, Authentic is campaigned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables.
Now 3-for-3, the bay sophomore broke his maiden at Del Mar in mid-November, and romped by 7 3/4 lengths when making his stakes debut in Jan. 4 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita. He showed signs of immaturity while stretching to two turns in the Sham, weaving in-and-out in the stretch, but stayed straight in the San Felipe.
“When I saw the fractions, 22 and change, it was fast, but he was doing it so easy,” said five-time Kentucky Derby winner Baffert. “The really good ones do that and I just love the way he looked down the backside. Turning for home I saw Mike Smith coming with that good horse (Honor A.P.) and I said, ‘We’ll see what he’s made of’ and I was hoping he wouldn’t do his shenanigans (ducking in).
“But he handled it well and he wasn’t tired. He’s a special horse and this was probably one of the toughest prep races that we’ve seen so far. Those were really good horses in there. We hope to stay healthy and run in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) (April 4). He’ll stay here and run in that and I’ll figure something out with Thousand Words.
“Drayden has been doing a magnificent job on him and I’m happy for him. I’m happy for the groom; a lot of sweat and hard work goes into these things and we are fortunate to find a horse like this.”
Honor A. P. finished a commendable second in the first start since breaking his maiden in mid-October, 3 1/2 lengths clear of champion 2-year-old male Storm the Court in third. It was another 5 1/2 lengths to 5-2 second favorite Thousand Words, and Wrecking Crew, Fort McHenry and Swagsational completed the order.
The San Felipe awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and Authentic jumped to the top of the Derby Leaderboard with 60 total (pocketing 10 for the Sham).
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Authentic is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless.