Baffert: ‘The Most Crazy 30 Minutes I’ve Had In Racing’

It wasn’t the usual morning-after scene around Barn 33 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday as only a smattering of media and cameras were on hand waiting for the shedrow’s Hall of Fame trainer to lead out his latest Kentucky Derby hero. But after months of having one contender after another go by the wayside in the lead up the 146th edition of the “Run for the Roses”, Bob Baffert was never more thankful or grateful to show off a newly minted classic winner for the few who had gathered.

Baffert has brought many an elite horse out on the Churchill Downs backside the day after the Kentucky Derby but the look of admiration he cast in the direction of Authentic less than 24 hours after the colt’s triumph in the 10-furlong test was one that spoke volumes about the journey to that point. The bay son of Into Mischief “wasn’t even tired” according to his trainer after leading every point of call to defeat heavily favored Tiz the Law and 13 others en route to giving Baffert his record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby triumph.

Owned by Spendthrift Farm, My Racehorse, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing, Authentic capped off a wild 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby for Baffert that saw the trainer lose highly regarded Nadal and Charlatan to injury earlier in the year. The drama didn’t stop for Baffert even when he made it to the paddock for the race Saturday as his other Derby entrant this season, graded stakes winner Thousand Words, was a late scratch after rearing and flipping in the paddock — an incident that resulted in assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes suffering a broken wrist that will require surgery.

Even without 160,000 in the stands to watch as this year’s Kentucky Derby was held without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic, Authentic managed to give his team a moment for the ages as he hit the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front.

“I couldn’t believe it, I thought he might be a little tired today,” Baffert said of Authentic. “He came out of it well. Jimmy is going to need surgery, I think he’ll need eight screws in his wrist but he actually was here this morning. He’s a trooper. I was so emotional yesterday because I wanted (Barnes) to be there. To me, that was most emotional Derby I’ve ever been involved in because of what happened during that little time frame. It was the most crazy 30 minutes I’ve had in racing.

“Before May, I was looking so strong and then everything just went wrong,” Baffert continued. “And to pull it off like that was really exciting. Winning the Kentucky Derby is the biggest moment in a trainer’s life. When you win it, it erases everything that has gone bad.”

With the Derby victory, Authentic not only answered the question of whether an offspring of Into Mischief could get 10 furlongs successfully, but he moved himself to the forefront of the sophomore male ranks having previously annexed the Haskell Stakes (G1), Sham Stakes (G3) and San Felipe Stakes (G2) this year. His only loss in six career starts came when he ran second to Honor A. P. in the June 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and he also gives B. Wayne Hughes’ powerhouse Spendthrift Farm operation its first Derby triumph.

“It was all so unbelievable. I walked over with the Albaughs (co-owners of Thousand Words) and we’re all enjoying the moment and then…the next thing you know (Thousand Words) exploded and went over,” said Mark Toothaker, stallion sales manager of Spendthrift Farm, which also co-owns Thousand Words.  “The state vet walked over and said he was a scratch. So you had all the emotion of you are within 20 minutes of having a horse getting ready to run in the Kentucky Derby that we picked out and we’re so excited and as we were walking through the tunnel, I said to our general manager Ned Toffey ‘If there is a Derby God out there….maybe we can win.’ For Authentic to just keep giving it in the stretch, it was like he had an extra push.”

A trip to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes (GI) on Oct. 3 is slated as the next objective for both Authentic and Thousand Words, as the latter escaped his paddock fall without injury. Baffert said both colts will head over the shedrow of Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas to stay for the next few weeks as the legendary conditioner has offered to help oversee the duo so that Baffert doesn’t have to ship them back to California in the interim.

“Being that the Preakness is a few weeks away, I thought it might be too hard on them to go back. So I have an assistant trainer, this D. Wayne Lukas guy here,” Baffert joked. “So they’re going to be in Wayne’s barn. We’re going to run them out of here. If they’re working well and all going well, they’ll go to the Preakness. I didn’t want to take them all the way to California and back. I want to give them every opportunity.

“We’re planning on both if they’re doing well. Thousand Woods we’ll give him another chance at it. He didn’t have a scratch on him.”

Even though he was flying back to California Sunday morning to spend part of his birthday, Jimmy Barnes was back to work dark and early Sunday morning, albeit in a compromised capacity. Barnes said he wasn’t going to say anything about his broken right wrist — and he’s right-handed — but he rolled up his sleeve and saw it at the wrong angle. He said he watched the Derby on a phone in the ambulance on his way to Norton Audubon Hospital. He said the ER personnel knew he was connected to the Derby winner, and that the ER doctor actually was a co-breeder of Baffert’s two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute.

“I didn’t have to go (to the hospital). I could have watched it on a TV,” Barnes said. “I said, ‘Just get me over there and I can watch it on my phone.’ Heck, what was I going to do, run out to the winner’s circle and everything? My hand was pointing this way.”

Asked if the hospital staff was aware Barnes was connected to the Derby winner, he said: “Oh yeah, my doctor bred Midnight Lute, he was a partner on Midnight Lute’s breeding and a horse we had called Socialbug

“We won. What a great race. I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was watching it on a phone. I would have wanted to stay, but I wanted to get out of there also. I didn’t want to prolong the situation. I knew what I was in for. I was probably going to be at the ER, I thought I’d be there a lot longer than I actually was. They put me out, reset it, wrapped it up, so I had to wait, because they won’t just release you once they do that. If it would have been my first Derby, they all mean a lot to me, but there were people there representing. I said, ‘They got it covered.’”

Barnes’ first Derby with Baffert was in 1999 with General Challenge and his first Derby winner with Baffert was War Emblem in 2002.

“That being said, I really wanted to stay, because it is an emotional thing,” Barnes said. “It was important to me to get started on this immediately so I could get back to the barn. That’s what was going through my head. When it happened, I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to say I was OK. I knew it kind of hurt. Then I pulled my sleeve up and saw it was pointing a different direction. So I pulled it back down and said, ‘I better say something.’ ”

“Then (Baffert) got knocked around and the owner got stepped on (in the winner’s circle).”

Was Barnes surprised by Authentic’s performance?

“Well, he didn’t surprise me, the way he trains and the way you watch him move. He’s just this big leaper. He’s got a huge stride on him,” Barnes said. “He just got out there motoring along. Johnny V rode him superbly. He committed early and if you’re going to go with him you’re going to be running fast. So they kind of backed off a bit, from what I saw. When they turned for home, he was headed. That horse was there. For him to straighten out and switch leads, because you look at his earlier races and he was very erratic in the stretch in numerous races. Even Mike (Smith) had some issues in New Jersey (winning the Haskell), and Drayden (Van Dyke) had some issues. But Johnny V, when he pulled his stick through to the left hand and got after him, boy, he just leveled out and said, ‘They’re not going by me today.’ ”

“You can be on the floor and then be up in the sky soaring,” Barnes said of the highs and lows racing can bring.

The post Baffert: ‘The Most Crazy 30 Minutes I’ve Had In Racing’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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