ARCADIA, CA – After running wildly in his graded stakes debut last time out, Authentic stamped himself as a legitimate runner while acing his latest test in Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Stumbling slightly as he broke from post 4 as the 6/5 favorite, Authentic quickly recovered and outlegged his six foes heading into the clubhouse turn. With his Bob Baffert stablemate Thousand Words and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Storm the Court tracking him closely, Authentic posted opening fractions of :22.84, :46.71, and 1:11.32.
After getting a breather on the backstretch, Authentic came under a drive midway through the far turn as Honor A. P. ranged up along his outside. Unphased by the challenge, Authentic quickly repelled Honor A. P. before striding off powerfully in the stretch for victory.
Showing no signs of the greenness that he displayed in the Sham Stakes (G3) last time out, Authentic ran straight and true before crossing 2 1/4 lengths the best in a final time of 1:43.56 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“Beautiful trip,” Van Dyke said. “He took a little tiny stumble out of the gate, but it wasn’t enough to cost us. I was just in cruise control. I was seeing if anybody was going to test me to make me pick it up. I kept him going a few times, just to keep him focused, but he got off amazing and it seems like there’s more in the tank.”
Though unable to keep pace with the eventual winner, Honor A. P. was 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Storm the Court to take second under Mike Smith.
“I’m very proud of him, and I thought he ran extremely well,” Smith said of his steed, who was making his first start since October 13. “We were a bit behind coming in because he bruised his foot earlier, about a month and a half or two months ago, so we missed some time with him, but I thought if I could finish within a couple lengths of whoever won it today, then that would be a really good effort, and if I was to win it, that would be incredible. I was very happy with this effort and he should move forward off this. He should have a better kick next time, so we’re excited.”
Thousand Words, Wrecking Crew, Fort McHenry, and Swagsational completed the strung-out order of finish.
The San Felipe is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Authentic earned 50 points for the win, with Honor A. P. receiving 20 for second, Thousand Words 10 for third, and Storm the Court 5 for fourth.
Authentic’s win improved his record to a perfect 3-for-3 with $331,200 earned for co-owners SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables.
“Drayden has been doing a magnificent job on him and I’m happy for him,” said Baffert, who won the San Felipe for a record seventh time. “I’m happy for the groom; a lot of sweat and hard work goes into these things and we are fortunate to find a horse like this. We still have a long way to go, but what I saw today, you want to see him doing it as easy as he did. He looked like he was enjoying himself out there. I have to just keep him at this level until the first Saturday in May.”
Authentic returned $4.40 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Honor A. P. brought back $4 to place and $2.80 to show, while Storm the Court paid $2.80 to show.