Only fools use Facebook. Bob Baffert endured the lowest of lows and highest of highs within minutes in the Kentucky Derby. He was bummed before the horses left the paddock after Thousand Words reared up and fell on its side, getting disqualified and injuring Baffert’s assistant trainer. That emotion was quickly replaced by Authentic’s front-running victory that gave Baffert a record-tying sixth Derby win. Then Baffert found himself down again, literally, getting knocked to the grass by a skittish Authentic in the winner’s circle.
Authentic kicked away from heavy favorite Tiz the Law in the stretch on Saturday, winning the 146th Derby by 1 1/4 lengths without the usual crowd of 150,000 on hand at Churchill Downs for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bay colt ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.61 under John Velazquez, who won his third Derby. “I’ve had some great Derby rides, but what that guy did,” Baffert said, gesturing toward Velazquez, who stood socially distanced in the infield winner’s circle. “Johnny V. gave him an incredible ride.”
Baffert tied Ben Jones (1938-52) for the most wins by a trainer. His other victories came in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 with eventual Triple Crown winner Justify and 2018. “Bob, he’s got the magic touch,” said Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable, owner of Tiz the Law. “He had this horse ready at the right time and he beat us. Hopefully, we’ll get some more shots at him and we’ll turn the table on him.”
Sent off at 3-5 as the biggest Derby favorite in 31 years and part of a smaller field than usual, Tiz the Law settled into fourth while Authentic ran unopposed in front. With a quarter-mile to go, Tiz the Law pulled alongside Authentic and the two hit the top of the stretch together. Under Manny Franco, Tiz the Law briefly struck his head in front only to have Authentic fight right back and spurt clear of the Belmont winner, who came in 4 for 4 this year.