The Into Mischief colt set the pace, then held gamely in a stretch duel against heavily favored Tiz the Law to win the 146th Run for the Roses.
Authentic earned Baffert his sixth Kentucky Derby title. The Hall of Fame conditioner is now tied with the late Ben Jones for the all-time Derby training wins record.
“This never gets old,” Baffert said. “We just feel so fortunate and blessed.”
Another Hall of Famer, jockey John Velazquez, scored his third Kentucky Derby triumph aboard Authentic.
There were questions about how Authentic would handle the 1¼ miles after barely hanging on last month to win the Grade 1 Haskell at 1 1/8 miles. He answered those doubts Saturday to become a Derby champion.
Wearing saddle cloth No. 18, Authentic broke from the far outside post in the Kentucky Derby. The field was reduced to 15 in the minutes before the race after the winner’s stablemate Thousand Words was a late scratch due to a paddock incident.
Velazquez had to take his time working Authentic over toward the rail and was able to finally get out in front going into the first turn. The fractions went in :22.92, :46.41 and 1:10.23 as Tiz the Law closely tracked Authentic.
Turning for home, Authentic and Tiz the Law were all alone out front. Both colts dug in, Authentic under Velazquez on the inside and Tiz the Law under jockey Manny Franco right outside of him.
In the end, it was Authentic who had the extra motor Saturday. He crossed 1½ lengths ahead of Tiz the Law, making the 10 furlongs in 2:00.61.
I let him get loose and get comfortable,” said Velazquez, who also won the Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming in 2017. “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.”
Authentic paid $18.80 as an 8-1 shot. Tiz the Law was second as the 3-5 favorite, while Mr. Big News juiced up the trifecta at 46-1 odds. Honor A. P., the 7-1 second betting choice, was fourth ahead of Max Player in fifth.
Rounding out the field from sixth through 15th were Storm the Court, Enforceable, Ny Traffic, Necker Island, Major Fed, Sole Volante, Winning Impression, Money Moves, Attachment Rate and South Bend.
A partnership group of Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing campaign Authentic, a $350,000 purchase as a yearling in 2018. He improved his record to 6: 5-1-0 lifetime with almost $3 million earned.