‘The best horse in America’ – Bob Baffert ends turbulent year with Breeders’ Cup Classic one-two

So you know Bob Baffert capped an eventful year with Authentic leading home a Breeders’ Cup Classic one-two. You’ve probably seen the race – and all the others on a memorable card – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know …

AUTHENTIC
AUTHENTIC Picture: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What's going on?

Classic: Authentic is 'best horse in America'

Authentic became only the fourth horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic in the same year as he led home stablemate Improbable for an emphatic all-the-way victory in America's richest race.

The one-two was a redemptive result for legendary trainer Bob Baffert, whose year has been plagued by controversy amid several failed dope tests. 

"He's the best horse in America," said Baffert after winning the $6m contest for the fourth time after Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016). 

The son of Into Mischief has never finished worse than second in seven career starts, winning five. He follows Sunday Silence (1989), Unbridled (1990), and American Pharoah in adding the Classic to the Derby in his three-year-old season.

Authentic scored by two and a quarter lengths over Improbable, who ran on late to head outsider Global Campaign for second. The controversial Maximum Security, third member of Baffert's so-called 'Dream Team', weakened into fifth.

"I'd have loved to have run 1-2-3 but I'm proud of my horses and what a way to end the year after what we've gone through," said Baffert. "I love this sport and it's a great day. That was awesome. I tell you what, I needed that, didn't I?"

First Classic for 'emotional' Johnny V

Authentic was completing a Breeders' Cup double for Baffert and jockey John Velazquez after a spectacular triumph via Gamine in the Filly & Mare Sprint.

Baffert took his BC total to 17 winners – second only to his great friend D Wayne Lukas with 20. Johnny V now has 18 Cup winners, second to Mike Smith on 26. However, the hugely popular veteran had never before won the Classic.

"I've been chasing this race for quite a while and to have the opportunity to do it and to win it is incredible," said the 48-year-old jockey. "What a feeling – the older I get the more emotional I get."

Track record – after several other track records

On a lightning-fast Keeneland surface where it paid to race on the pace and on the rails, Authentic set one of many track records on the card, stopping the clock in a startling 1m59.19s for the 1m2f to take nearly a second of American Pharoah's previous best of 2m00.07s.

Gamine (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Knicks Go (Dirt Mile) also established new course records making all on the dirt track in Breeders' Cup races, while unbeaten Nashville did the same on the undercard.

Tiz The Law 'never settled' in sixth

Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law was trapped inside horses for much of the race before dropping out of contention in the stretch and finishing sixth. 

"My horse never settled for me," said jockey Manny Franco. "He was pulling me the whole way hard. When I sent to looking for him he was done.

"I was inside looking for a way to get out to a clear run. I had wait longer than I wanted to. It is what it is."

Filly & Mare Sprint: Gamine is 'the baddest bitch in the land'

The superlatives – plus the odd colourful epithet – were flying after a stunning track-record victory from star-crossed filly Gamine.

Not least from trainer Bob Baffert, who described the daughter of Into Mischief as both "the fastest filly I've ever trained" and "the baddest bitch in the land".

Owner Michael Lund Petersen wasn't to be outdone. "Obviously she's an amazing freaking horse," said the owner nicknamed the 'Great Dane' after watching a spectacular display from his $1.8m filly, in a league of her own with a 6¼-length score in a sizzling track-record time of 1m20.20s for the 7f.

'BS stuff and stupid contamination' – Bob Baffert

Gamine's race record now reads as three wins from five starts, all three having come in G1 company – by a cumulative margin of more than 32 lengths!

However, the bare facts don't tell the whole story as she has unwittingly been a central figure in an eventful year for her trainer Bob Baffert, whose horses have returned a slew of positive dope tests.

Gamine herself was disqualified after a winning debut on the Arkansas Derby, while she has again returned a positive test after coming third in the Kentucky Oaks on her last start before the BC.

Baffert, who has vowed to "raise the bar" on this issue in future, has cited cross-contamination on both occasions – via a human back-pain analgesic and cough syrup. But you could sense his relief after Gamine had slammed her rivals at Keeneland.

"We know one turn is her game and it was spectacular," he said. "She's brilliant and her owner Michael Lund Petersen stood behind me the whole time. He never wavered and he knows all that's been happening was BS stuff and stupid contamination. I'm proud he's with me and he's got bragging rights now."


Horse Racing Planet