An unusual Kentucky Derby, held four months late at a racetrack devoid of spectators, was a natural setting for an unusual outcome on Saturday. Authentic, an 8-1 underdog, obliged.
Authentic, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by John R. Velazquez, took the 146th Kentucky Derby in thrilling fashion, holding off heavy favorite Tiz the Law down the stretch to give Baffert his record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby win.
Authentic wins the Kentucky Derby!! pic.twitter.com/OiSrJEcvZz— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) September 5, 2020
Behind Authentic and Tiz the Law was Mr. Big News, a heavy underdog at 46-1, in show.
Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes in June, was favored at 4-5 odds entering the race, but Authentic broke into an early lead and stayed ahead, ensuring there would be no Triple Crown winner in a year the three races were held out of order for the first time ever.
“He was training lights out. He was training the best he’d ever trained,” Baffert said after the race. “And here we are, greatest race in the world. I feel very blessed and fortunate.”
Bob Baffert ties Kentucky Derby record
With Authentic’s win, Baffert scored his sixth win at the Derby and third in the last six years. That ties him with Ben Jones for the most by a trainer in the history of the race, and came with some emotion for the legendary trainer.
Shortly before the race, Baffert’s other horse in the race, Thousand Words, violently reared in the paddock and had to be scratched. Baffert revealed after the race that his assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes had broken his arm during the incident.
“Poor guy, he should be here with me. He's in an ambulance,” Baffert said, holding back tears. “We were yelling ‘Do it for Jimmy’ the whole way. Just unbelievable.”
Authentic was also not without incident, as he got a little worked up in the winner’s circle and knocked a few people aside, including Baffert.
Before Authentic, Baffert had scored Derby wins with Justify in 2018, American Pharoah in 2015, War Emblem in 2002, Real Quiet in 1998 and Silver Charm in 1997.
Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler among Authentic’s owners
Among the owners to enjoy Authentic’s victory was Los Angeles Dodgers right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler, Baffert revealed later. Buehler is a Lexington, Ky. native and attended Vanderbilt for college.
The majority owner of Authentic is billionaire B. Wayne Hughes, founder of Public Storage. The horse was also partially funded by MyRacehorse.com, a 1-year-old app that sold shares in the horse for $206 per share.
Kentucky Derby held with no spectators
Like pretty much every other sporting event in 2020, the Derby was forced to make extreme changes in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Derby was postponed to September back in March, the first time it wasn’t run on the first Saturday in May since 1945, when horse racing was banned by the federal government due to World War II. Even in that year, the race was only delayed until June. The only other year the Derby wasn’t held in May was 1901, when it was held on April 29.
Organizers were also forced to hold the Derby without fans for the first time ever. It was previously hoped that a crowd of as many as 23,000 would be admitted, but another rise in COVID-19 cases in Louisville nixed those plans.
The extravagant hats and mint juleps that traditionally define the race-day atmosphere were in short supply, replaced by empty seats and intermittent shouts of the few allowed into Churchill Downs. Outside the racetrack was a heavy police presence and several hundred protesters against racial injustice, six months after the killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police.
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