Off his first career loss, Authentic makes his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday. He is also the low-priced favorite once again, just as in his four career starts.
As always, bettors are paying the “Baffert tax” with Authentic. If a Baffert entry has a loss in his last start or a bad trip, the public will forgive because Bob Baffert is the most famous active trainer. Authentic is a nice horse with three wins in four starts, but the value is low.
Here is a quick recap of Authentic's three starts this year.
The son of Into Mischief started off his campaign in excellent form by winning the Sham Stakes (G3) by 7 3/4 lengths and the San Felipe Stakes (G2) by 2 1/4 lengths over his nemesis, Honor A. P. In both cases, Authentic won in gate-to-wire fashion with an uncontested lead.
However, when Authentic did not break well in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), he had to face adversity by going wide on the first turn and contesting the pace. He also ran nine furlongs for the first time.
All of those factors eventually caught up.
On the far turn, when he moved forward to challenge Anneau d’Or and Shooters Shoot, Honor A. P. ranged up alongside him.
Authentic had no answer as Honor A. P. met him eye to eye, and Honor A. P. eventually drew clear in the last few strides to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Even Rushie made up ground on Authentic late, closing the gap to 1 1/4 lengths. But Authentic did at least hold second over Rushie.
Authentic repeated his San Felipe figure by earning a 120 on TimeformUS. If only going by figures, that is still the best number.
Did Authentic’s early trouble cost him the win? It might not matter. As stated, the public is not going to give bettors a break on Authentic. He could win, but there is a price, given the famous trainer and top figure.
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The best alternative option is Ny Traffic, who comes off a runner-up finish to the highly talented Maxfield in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3).
As seen in the Matt Winn, his biggest asset is his tactical speed.
He owns enough speed to position himself up front, but he does not need the lead. Ny Traffic sat right off Celtic Striker.
On the far turn, both Ny Traffic and Pneumatic moved forward, and Celtic Striker bowed out. The two new leaders pushed clear of most of the field, except for the oncoming Maxfield, who came with his run.
Ny Traffic shifted out to intimidate Maxfield, but the better horse won. Ny Traffic settled for second over the inexperienced Pneumatic in third.
Put the loss in perspective. Ny Traffic lost to Maxfield by a length after pressing the pacesetter, while Maxfield rallied from eighth (although only a few lengths behind). Because Ny Traffic did more pace work, he still earned a 115 on TimeformUS. Maxfield earned a 115 for winning.
In this situation, Ny Traffic needs one or both longshots Ancient Warrior and Lebda to bother Authentic on the lead, or even snatch the lead from him with a quick break. Ny Traffic can follow them closely.
For those with TimeformUS Pace Projector, look at how it predicts Ancient Warrior and Lebda on the lead. Ny Traffic is fourth in the projection, which means his natural speed is not as fast as those three.
Prior to the Matt Winn, Ny Traffic gave a good account of himself on the Derby trail by finishing second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) after chasing an uncontested Wells Bayou, and third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2).
The 2 for 8 record is concerning, but Ny Traffic gets one more chance.
What about the Todd Pletcher-trained Dr Post?
Dr Post closed for second in the Belmont Stakes under an all-out drive. He finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Tiz the Law and 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Max Player in third. Arguably he closed against a speed bias, though.
For the runner-up effort, Dr Post earned a 115 on TimeformUS, matching Ny Traffic's best figure.
Two starts ago, Dr Post won the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park with a 112, over names such as Attachment Rate and Americanus.
Dr Post is lightly raced and improving with each start. As a midpack type, he figures to receive a good trip settling five to eight lengths off the leading group. However, the public figures to love Dr Post off his second place in the Belmont. But did he just pass tired horses?
He is capable of upsetting, but watch the price. Not only does his Belmont effort attract bettors, the Pletcher name still takes money.
Before wrapping up this analysis, Jesus’ Team gets a minor shoutout for finishing second in a June 10 Gulfstream optional claimer, 3/4 of a length behind Sole Volante and 34 of a length ahead of Shivaree, both familiar names on the Derby trail. Ete Indien faded to fourth in the same race.
Jesus' Team also figures to benefit from the pace setup. He will find himself only a few lengths off the leading group and ahead of Dr Post.
If nothing else, use Jesus’ Team underneath in exotics.
Ny Traffic is the choice. He owns useful tactical speed and proven class. Granted, Authentic is the faster horse on paper, but the faster horse does not always win. It all depends on the kind of trip Authentic gets and whether he wants the nine-furlong distance. But if the pace is too fast, then Dr Post can take advantage and mow those two horses down.
All three horses deserve consideration in multi-race wagers. Vertically, Ny Traffic or Dr Post (if not overbet) fit on top of trifecta wheels.