ARCADIA, CA – From flags fall to that’s all, Authentic aired it out impressively over his five foes to win Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking alertly from the rail under Drayden Van Dyke as the 6/5 favorite, Authentic immediately asserted himself on the front end, holding a 1 1/2-length lead through the clubhouse turn. While Uncaptured Hero, Zimba Warrior, and Scoring created a three-wide wall behind him, Authentic posted opening fractions of :23.87, :47.94, and 1:12.18.
Let loose as he hit the top of the stretch, Authentic began airing it out against his rivals, then nearly aired Van Dyke over the inner rail when he ducked in greenly as he changed leads. It took Van Dyke several strides to calm his steed, but Authentic’s overall talent proved too tough for his foes to overcome.
Galloping home in hand, Authentic crossed 7 3/4 lengths the best in a final time of 1:37.57 for the 1-mile event over the fast main track.
“The main thing was getting out of the gate,” Van Dyke said. “Once we did, it was a nice trip. I took the lead and I wasn’t going to go too fast, but I’m happy I got the trip I did. I think the noise from the crowd made him react the way he did there in the stretch. His ears went toward the crowd, so I think that’s what caused it, but then when he got down to the rail, he spooked himself again.”
Authentic’s Bob Baffert stablemate Azul Coast raced at the rear early before closing in the stretch to take second under Joel Rosario.
“He got a lot of dirt in his face early, and then he came running,” Rosario said. “He’ll move forward off of this.”
Zimba Warrior ran an even third, finishing 3/4 of a length ahead of Taishan. Behind them came Scoring and Uncaptured Hero to complete the order of finish.
The Sham is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Authentic earned 10 points for the win, with Azul Coast receiving 4 for second, Zimba Warrior 2 for third, and Taishan 1 for fourth.
Authentic’s win was his second in as many starts, having broken his maiden while going 5 1/2 furlongs over the Del Mar main track on November 9. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief, purchased for $350,000 as a yearling, has now earned $91,200 for co-owners SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables.
“We thought if he’s a good horse, he should win,” Baffert said. “That’s what you’re hoping for, the way he was working and all. Drayden has always been really high on him. When I ran him the first time at Del Mar, he was a little bit green that day. I was debating whether or not to put blinkers on him. I didn’t, but he may need something to keep him more focused.”
Authentic returned $4.40 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.20 to show. Azul Coast brought back $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show, while Zimba Warrior paid $5.40 to show.