LOUISVILLE, Ky--Bob Baffert saddled Authentic, ridden by John Valezquez, to beat favorite Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg and ridden by Manny Franco, to win the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, the first time the race had ever occurred on Labor Day weekend and also the first time it was held without spectators.
Authentic’s victory gave Baffert and Velazquez milestone achievements.
For Baffert it was his sixth Kentucky Derby victory, a total that ties him with Ben Jones for the most all time.
Baffert’s other victories came in 1997 with Silver Charm, 1998 with Real Quiet, 2002 with War Emblem, 2015 with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and 2018 with Triple Crown winner Justify.
For Velazquez, it was his 200th GI victory and third Kentucky Derby triumph.
His previous victories came with Always Dreaming in 2017 and Animal Kingdom in 2011.
“We didn’t win it," said Tagg. "Baffert’s hard to beat. I thought he would get up to win, because he usually moves away from them. What can you do? It’s a horse race.”
“HE'S RUN WELL every time," said Tagg. "He ran a good race today. He got beat.”
“I had the trip that I expected," said Franco. "He just couldn’t go by the other horse. The other horse fight so hard. He was ready for today too.”
Franco said the race set up the way he had expected.
“It was perfect," said Franco. "I thought I was going to be right there third or fourth, and the trip was perfect, no excuse.”
“I’m the only person who returned from the Funny Cide days, so we had a whole new group of people, their first experience in the Kentucky Derby," said Jack Knowlton, managing partner Sackatoga Stable, owner of Tiz the Law. "Even though it didn’t turn out the way we hoped it would, certainly no shame in the race he ran. He’ll be back. Hopefully he’ll come out of the race well and we’ll look to go onto Baltimore and hopefully win that and get some revenge.”
Since Knowlton said that it has been decided to skip the Preakness with Tiz the Law.
“Obviously we’d hoped to win." said Knowlton. "He was a big morning line favorite, went off odds-on. But it just wasn’t to be. Authentic ran a tremendous race. It was a fast pace, and he never came back. Tiz has been able to pass horses all year and today he ran into one he couldn’t get by.”
“At the top of the stretch, the way he’s been running all year, basically Manny (Franco) hasn’t had to ask him," said Knowlton. "Manny was asking him and he was trying. Authentic ran a great race. We’re going to see probably a big speed figure in there, and he deserved to win. He got the inside trip, and obviously our plan was to be outside. It’s worked all year. When you look probably at the number of the feet each of the horses ran, when it’s all said and done we probably ran quite a bit farther, farther than we got beat. But that was our plan, that’s the way this horse likes to run. Credit Authentic, I mean he came from the far outside and managed to get to the lead and just ran a great race. No shame on our part.”
"Baffert had his horse sharp," said Knowlton. "I didn’t think he was going to be the winner. I talked to him the other day and he certainly was full of praise for our horse. But Bob, he’s got the magic touch. He had this horse ready at the right time and he beat us today. Hopefully we’ll get some more shots at him and we’ll turn the table on him.”
AUTHENTIC, owned by Spendthrift Farm, LLC, Myracehorse.com, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing and bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, led from the start, held off a challenge through the stretch from Tiz The Law and drew away to a 1 1/4 length victory, covering the classic distance of a mile and quarter in 2:00.61 over a fast track.
The victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased Authentic’s earnings to $2,871,200 with a record of 6-5-1-0.
Authentic is a Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless.
“Unbelievable," said Baffert of Authentic's win. "But I’m worried about Jimmy (Barnes). He broke his arm, what happened. All I can say is this horse ran out of his mind. Johnny V. –perfect ride. I owe it all to my crew. Jimmy, poor guy is in an ambulance right now, can’t enjoy it. This is so emotional the ups and downs in this game. Unbelievable.”
Barnes' arm was broken when Bafftert's second entry, Thousand Words, almost flipped in the paddock.
“I have a lot of emotions running through my mind right now with Jimmy not able to be here." said Bafftert. "We knew that horse (Thousand Words) could be a problem. Jimmy has a broken arm."
"The key to this race was the break," said Baffert. "We’ve been planning this out the last couple of nights at Jeff Ruby’s. We knew we had to get away from there. We talked about where certain people would be. Johnny is a world class jockey and knows where everyone should be. I told him what I thought and he told me what he thought. I said ‘I like your plan.’ I told him what the horse likes and what he can do. I’ve been fortunate to have some great jockeys, this race was won by Johnny, just the way he handled the horse and how he finished. He earned this. He beat a really good horse. Tiz the Law is a top notch horse. I feel bad for the connections. I’ve been there. But, this never gets old. We just feel so fortunate and blessed.”
“As long as he comes out of it healthy and sound, let’s go to Baltimore," said Baffert. "Let’s go to the Preakness.”
“It’s always a concern that you let the horse do too much early in the race," said Velazquez. "You like to save ground and save some horse for the end. Bob was pretty certain the horse was ready today. I let him get loose and get comfortable. I waited until the horses got to him to get after him, and he responded right away. Bob kept telling me to make sure I saved that last eighth of a mile. I want that eighth of a mile. He said I want you to hit left-handed and he responded. It worked out the way we had planned it. Very proud of the horse.”
“We are grateful to our fans and our community for their support of the 146th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “We look forward to seeing our loyal fans at next year’s 147th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May.”
Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $126.0 million compared to $250.9 million on the 2019 Kentucky Derby Day program.
All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Derby race was $79.4 million compared to $165.5 million from last year’s Derby race.
The decline in handle for this year’s Derby Day program is attributable to the lack of on-track wagering, fewer horses per race including in the Kentucky Derby race, and a prohibitive favorite in the Derby race.