Although extremely green late, Bob Baffert's Authentic stamped himself as a top tier Derby contender with a powerful gate to wire triumph in Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke the Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief got a flat mile in 1:37.57.
Sent from his rail post position, Authentic was all business on the front end until he approached the furlong pole, when he began to race erratically, altering course and nearly brushing the inner rail inside the sixteenth pole.
“I think the noise from the crowd made him react the way he did there in the stretch,” said Van Dyke, who had ridden Authentic to his maiden victory going 5 ½ furlongs at Del Mar Nov. 9. “His ears went toward the crowd, so I think that's what caused it, but when he got down to the rail, he spooked himself again.
“I told Bob when he broke his maiden he was my favorite 2-year-old. He's very talented.”
In his second career start and his first try around two turns, Authentic was off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of six sophomores and paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20.
“When I ran him the first time down at Del Mar, he was a little bit green that day, because I was debating whether or not to put blinkers on him,” said Baffert. “I didn't, but he may need something to keep him a bit more focused.
“He's a really good horse, he's really talented and that's why I always work him by himself. When you got a good one like this they are just easier to train. He is just growing into himself, he's like a gazelle…He's all legs. Today, he wasn't blowing hard after the race and didn't take a deep breath, so that is a good sign.”
Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC Hertrich, III, John D. Fielding and Golconda Stables, Authentic, who is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless, picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $91,200.
Authentic also picks up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with four points to the second place finisher, two to third and one to fourth.
Baffert, who has now won the Sham a record six times, also saddled the second place finisher, Azul Coast, who was last early and rallied nicely through the lane to finish 1 ½ lengths in front of Zimba Warrior.
The second choice with Joel Rosario at 2-1, Azul Coast paid $3.20 and $2.40.
Third early, Zimba Warrior was second turning for home and proved third best on the day, finishing three quarters of a length clear of Taishan. The biggest price in the field at 33-1 with Jose Valdivia, Jr. up, Zimba Warrior paid $5.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.87, 47.94, 1:12.18 and 1:24.30.
Named for the winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby, today's Sham Stakes trophy was presented by his regular rider, retired Hall of Famer Laffit Pincay, Jr., who turned 73 this past Sunday.
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