Authentic Wins the Breeders' Cup Classic

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Sunday, November 8, 2020

Yes, I am one of the 5,314 owners of AUTHENTIC. I bought into AUTHENTIC two days before he ran and won in the Haskell. That may have been the best $206 I have ever spent on .001% of a horse. At the time, he was advertised as a potential Kentucky Derby winner. That's the pinnacle of horse racing for most owners and who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Plus, was going to have breeding rights - a first for the organization who has made owning a tiny fraction of a racehorse the most exciting investment ever. 

Before we dive into the Classic performance though, it's important to look at what led up to this day. In the Haskell, Mike Smith had the ride and it looked like he barely pulled out the win. In an interview with Bob Baffert just prior to the Kentucky Derby, Baffert explained that you have to keep encouraging him. Mike said he was clucking and talking to him in the stretch, but the problem was that AUTHENTIC wears ear plugs. He couldn't hear him! After the Haskell, AUTHENTIC just didn't get the props he deserved from most handicappers. They didn't see him as a threat to TIZ THE LAW, who had put in an excellent Belmont performance back in June. 

Fast forward to September 5th. It's the weirdest Kentucky Derby day ever thanks to COVID-19 and there are no spectators except for the owners and trainers. Only a few of the shareholders were able to go as many have connections to other horses. AUTHENTIC is breaking from the outside post and everyone is a little concerned because no horse had ever won from the 19 spot. But this time, Johnny Velazquez had the mount and the plan was simple - break fast and get to the front, run a quick quarter mile to set the pace, but settle a bit at the half. In the stretch, let him go, but keep encouraging him. Johnny V stuck to the plan and AUTHENTIC won the Kentucky Derby gate to wire. All 5,314 owners are reeling with excitement. Our horse just won the freaking Kentucky Derby! 

Then there was the Preakness, the game day plan was the same, but unfortunately there was this super filly in the field named SWISS preaknessSKYDIVER and no matter how much AUTHENTIC tried, she just had an edge over him. She just wouldn't let him by. But, hey, it's horse racing. It happens. SWISS SKYDIVER ended up in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but stumbled out of the gate and finished in sixth.

Then there was yesterday. Wow, what a day it was at Keeneland! A beautiful, sunny 75 degree fall day in the Bluegrass State. You literally could not ask for more of a gorgeous background for the best horse racing in the world than Keeneland. Spendthrift Farm's Mark Toothaker was live streaming on Facebook from the paddock. AUTHENTIC is there as the jockeys are starting to get their leg ups and he stops. He looks to his right, where the horses are walking off to the track, he puts his head up and he soaks in that moment. That was the second I knew that he was going to win it all. He was so quiet, calm and collected. He took in the sights and the sounds, put his head down, walked off, got his jock and went to work.

BC ClassicThe gates broke open and he was out and to the front. I'm watching it live on Racetrack Television Network and typing the action as fast as I can for our Championship Saturday Live coverage, but MY horse is winning the Classic. Like he's really going to win it! My typing stops and it turns to beating on my desk and cheering him on as Johnny V sticks to the plan and they hit the wire in first! AUTHENTIC just won the freaking $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic! Me and the 5,314 other owners are reeling with excitement. Posts and videos are popping up like crazy in the Authentic Owners Facebook group. My kid thinks I'm crazy. My dog comes to check on me and then we all pray that he doesn't spook in the Winner's Circle again! 

At this point, I don't even know where the other horses are. MAXIMUM SECURITY had been riding his tail to the outside, but was pressed by TIZ THE LAW in third. IMPROBABLE, who was favored to win, raced wide to make up for lost time in the break and managed to get ahead of GLOBAL CAMPAIGN, who was settling into second at the top of the stretch. TIZ THE LAW was pressured by the other two Baffert horses and drifted back to fifth in the turn. IMPROBABLE tried to catch AUTHENTIC, but he pulled away in the stretch by two and a half lengths as he crossed the wire. IMPROBABLE held onto second and GLOBAL CAMPAIGN was third. 

There was a timer malfunction during the Classic, so the race was hand-timed by Equibase with a final of 1:59.19. AUTHENTIC set the fifth track record of the day and broke AMERICAN PHAROAH'S record of 2:00.07 from 2015. AUTHENTIC is now the fourth horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Classic in the same year, putting him in the ranks of a Triple Crown winner as well as the greats SUNDAY SILENCE and UNBRIDLED.

authenticI have a very small personal connection to Spendthrift in that I sent a mare there to be bred in 2016 and that colt is still at my farm. I have followed Spendthrift since that time and have always been impressed by their operations and the decisions they make. The dedication of the team at Spendthrift and all that they do for the breeding industry is unparalleled. While 87 year old owner, Wayne Hughes, watched the Kentucky Derby from home due to COVID-19, nothing could keep him from being at the Breeders' Cup. Hughes is a majority owner in and acquired majority ownership in AUTHENTIC back in June prior to his start in the Santa Anita Derby. owns 12.5% of AUTHENTIC and shares were offered at $206 each up until the post time of the Derby. By the time he won the Derby, 5,314 shareholders had purchased 12,450 shares. 

What does the future hold for AUTHENTIC? Will he race as a four year old or head to the breeding shed? That decision has not yet been made. I know that many of the 5,314 owners want to continue this wild ride and see him race as a four year old. He seems to only get better with time. Perhaps a start in the Pegasus is next.

 classic stretch run

Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup/CSM

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