LEXINGTON, KY – Year-end honors for Champion 3-Year-Old and Horse of the Year were likely decided with one fell swoop when Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez piloted Authentic to a decisive gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Classic (G1) at Keeneland.
Authentic broke well from post 9 as the 4/1 co-third choice and was unchallenged as he went to the lead heading under the wire for the first time.
While the rest of the field bunched up behind him, Authentic strolled through fractions of :23.20, :47.06, 1:10.84, and 1:35 flat for the opening mile.
The 7/2 second choice Improbable ranged up four-wide heading into the far turn and made a bid for the lead at the top of the stretch, but Authentic’s unpressured early running meant he had more left in the tank.
Repelling his rivals like a veteran twice his age, Authentic became the first Kentucky Derby (G1) champion to win the Classic since American Pharoah sealed the deal over this same course and distance in 2015.
The one difference? Authentic’s final time for the 1 1/4-mile fast dirt route was 1:59.19, besting American Pharoah’s mark of 2:00.07.
“It’s incredible,” said Velazquez, whose 18th career Breeders’ Cup riding victory was his first in the Classic. “Thanks to God and the whole team. The older, I get the more emotional I get. It worked out perfect. He did everything I wanted him to do.”
Improbable’s failed bid still resulted in a strong runner-up effort, 2 1/4 lengths behind Authentic and 1 length ahead of Global Campaign, who dove to the rail in mid-stretch but failed to gain on the eventual winner.
Tacitus took fourth over Maximum Security and the 3/1 favorite Tiz the Law by a nose and a head, respectively.
Behind them came Title Ready, By My Standards, Tom’s d’Etat, and Higher Power to complete the order of finish.
Authentic’s win was a return to form after Swiss Skydiver (off the board in the Longines Distaff [G1] earlier on the card) defeated him in the Preakness Stakes (G1) last month and improved his record to 8-6-2-0. The Into Mischief colt, purchased for $350,000 as a yearling, has now earned $6,191,200 for co-owners Spendthrift Farm, MyRacehorse.com, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing.
“I’m just happy for Wayne Hughes (of Spendthrift) and everybody,” said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “That was awesome.”
Authentic returned $10.40 to win, $5.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Improbable brought back $4.80 to place and $3.20 to show, while Global Campaign paid $8.80 to show.