Odds-on favorite Authenticity earned her second graded stakes win, rolling to a comfortable one-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez – who is closing in on Jerry Bailey's record as the all-time leading rider at Saratoga – the 6-year-old mare took advantage of her outside post and settled in just off Sea Island as that one led through pokey fractions of 25.46 seconds for a quarter mile, 50.80 for a half and 1:15.03 for three-quarters. Ranging up on the turn, Authenticity swung into the stretch with a half-length advantage and had plenty left to turn back a late challenge from Flashy American.
Her winning time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:52.33.
“I knew it was going to be a slow pace, but I didn't want to be on the lead, either,” said Velazquez, who with the victory moved three behind Bailey's total 693 wins. “I kind of eased off from the other horse and got her to relax. By the three-eighths pole she got into that nice rhythm, and she did it pretty easy.”
Owned by Padua Stables, Authenticity is 4-3-1 from nine career starts, including her first graded stakes win in the Grade 2 La Troienne in May at Churchill Downs.
“I think it was a good effort from her,” said winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who indicated Authenticity's next start would be the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on August 25. “She's a total professional. She's very easy to train, easy to ride … You can put her on the lead, you can let her stalk, take her back if you wanted to. The main thing is we wanted her to be in a nice, comfortable rhythm.”
Authenticity returned $3 for a $2 win bet, and with the winner's purse of $120,000 has now amassed $513,362, most of which has been earned since joining Pletcher's stable this year.
Runner-up Flashy American was 2 ¼ lengths in front of Sea Island, who in turn had 2 ½ lengths on Moon Philly. Royal Lahaina was fifth, with Eblouissante, the younger half-sister of champion Zenyatta who was making her stakes debut, checking in sixth after acting up in the gate.
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84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap (G3) Quotes
Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Authenticity (No. 7): “It was pretty straightforward. We had a favorable post and we felt like we were either the speed of the race or could let it unfold inside us. She got in a good stalking position and a comfortable rhythm. I think it was a good effort from her. She's a total professional. She's very easy to train, easy to ride … you can put her on the lead, you can let her stalk, take her back if you wanted to. The main thing is we wanted her to be in a nice, comfortable rhythm.”
“It's been really hot the last few days and we felt like shipping to Delaware could maybe compromise her later in the year. We have a favorable setup here at Saratoga; we love to win here and maybe this sets her up well for the Personal Ensign [Grade 1, August 25].”
John Velazquez, winning jockey aboard Authenticity (No. 7): “I knew it was going to be a slow pace, but I didn't want to be on the lead, either. I kind of eased off from the other horse and got her to relax. By the three-eighths pole she got into that nice rhythm, and she did it pretty easy.”
“[The reason I didn't] want to be on the lead because I know when she gets to the lead she's going to be waiting. I kind of hit her a couple of times when I saw the horse on the inside [runner-up Flashy American], and she went on easy.”
Rosie Napravnik, jockey aboard sixth-place finisher Eblouissante (No. 3): “It was a long wait in the gate, and she got a little nervous and started acting up.”
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