Authentic looked on his way down the stretch Saturday to an easy win in Monmouth Park’s Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes. The Bob Baffert trainee got that victory, but just barely.
Ny Traffic uncorked a rapid close in the final furlong, drawing from four lengths behind to within a nose. A photo finish showed Authentic crossed the wire first in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell.
WHAT A FINISH!!July 18, 2020
“He’s an extremely talented horse, has an abundance of talent,” winning jockey Mike Smith said. “But he’s still got some growing up to do.”
Authentic, who broke poorly when suffering his first career defeat June 6 in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), had no gate issues Saturday under Smith. The 3-5 favorite set fractions of :23.60, :47.52 and 1:11.50.
Ny Traffic chased Authentic closely before giving ground coming into the stretch. The Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee then fought back valiantly under rider Paco Lopez, but just ran out of room.
“I’m just so proud of him,” Baffert told NBC in a video call from his California base. “I was like everybody else, like I’m telling Mike, ‘You better stay after him. You’ve got to keep him busy because he looks at everything.' …
“I could tell he wasn’t focused coming down the stretch, but he held on. When he saw a horse coming at him, he took off again.”
Authentic covered the nine furlongs in 1:50.45 and returned $3.20. Belmont Stakes runner-up Dr Post finished third behind Authentic and Ny Traffic.
With the Haskell victory, Authentic both earned 100 points toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby and clinched a “Win and You’re In” berth for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt improved to 5: 4-1-0 lifetime for owners Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight Racing.
Authentic already entered the day with 100 Road to the Kentucky Derby points thanks to wins in the Sham Stakes (G3) and San Felipe Stakes (G2) and his Santa Anita Derby runner-up finish. Now he has 200 points and sits second in the standings for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby behind only Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law (272).
On the Breeders’ Cup front, Authentic is the third horse to win a 2020 Classic Division Challenge Series race, joining Japanese runner Mozu Ascot and Stephen Foster (G2) winner Tom’s d’Etat.