Holds Off Ny Traffic By A Nose
By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile
Authentic, who led at every call as the 3-5 favorite in a field of seven, hung on to win the Grade I TVG Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park by a nose over a resilient Ny Traffic.
The pair ran one-two throughout the race after Authentic, ridden by Mike Smith, broke alertly from post 2 and carved out fraction of 23.60, 47.52 and 1:11.50 for the first six furlongs, with Ny Traffic never more than a length-and-a-half behind. Unexpectedly, none of the four lesser lights in the field attempted to run with Authentic early.
Into the stretch, Authentic opened up a 2 1/2-length lead with a furlong remaining and the mile gone in 1:37.22, and he appeared to have the race in hand. Suddenly, Authentic began slowing and Ny Traffic, the third betting choice at 5-1 odds, kept coming -- only to lose by a few inches as his jockey, Paco Lopez, celebrated a bit. It was that close, and two strides past the wire, Ny Traffic was in front. Authentic was timed in 1:50.45 for the mile and an eighth.
Dr Post was sent away from post 1 the 9-5 second choice at the windows. He was off a bit sluggishly and was in sixth place, six lengths behind Authentic after the first half-mile. Perhaps struggling a bit with the track, he didn't get going until straightaway and managed to finish third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths.
Jesus' Team, who tracked Authentic and Ny Traffic in third into the stretch, finished fourth, another 3 1/4 lengths back. He was followed by Fame to Famous, Lebda and Ancient Warrior.
The finish was the chalk. Authentic paid $3.20 to win, $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show. Ny Traffic returned $4.20 and $2.40 to place and show, and Dr Post's show money was $2.10.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who watched the race from his home base in California, racked up his ninth Haskell win.
Authentic grabbed 100 Kentucky Derby points to run his total to 200 and place him second on the Derby leaderboard behind Tiz the Law, who is way ahead with 272 points. Forty points went to Ny Traffic, who's now fourth on the leaderboard with 110, behind Honor A. P.'s 120.
Authentic rebounded from a loss to Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby, and the win came after being shipped out of California for the first time.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum's Thoroughbreds LLC. A $350,000 purchase at the Keeneland September 2018 Yearling Sale, he's owned by Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight Racing.
The group not only took another step toward the Kentucky Derby, but by winning the race Authentic garnered an automatic berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic.
Winning trainer Bob Baffert: “I’m just so proud of him, but I was like everybody else telling Mike, ‘You better stay after him. You’d better keep busy.’ He looks at everything, as we’ve seen in his past races. I could tell he wasn’t focused going down the stretch but he held on. He saw that horse coming to him and he took off again.
“Jimmy (assistant trainer Barnes) said he came back not really that tired. We’re learning about the horse. He might need a little blinker, though. He was playing in the stretch. I had told Mike that he had to stay after him and keep him busy. I could tell he wasn’t laying it down. He was just playing out there, and that horse came to him and kept him going. But when he got by himself like that, I thought for sure he was just going to go on. But he ran a great race.”
Assistant Jimmy Barnes: “This horse had been a home horse all along. He’s been running at Santa Anita. He had to hit the road for this. It’s a big step to put him on a plave and travel this far. Like Mike said, he is still learning with each and every race. He handled the paddock well, handled the post parade, everything well and broke good. Like Mike said he was just a little quirky on the racetrack, looking at a few things. There’s room for a lot of improvement there. I was standing at the wire. I knew we won. That wasn’t a concern. I noticed immediately Mike riding him out past the wire to the next pole. That’s good judgment on his part. It was a race where it seemed this horse was going to suit this racetrack. We like to bring a good horse here. It’s one of our favorite spots of the year.”
Winning jockey Mike Smith: “He’s a colt with an abundance of talent. Ability is something he does not lack. He’s got a lot of it. But what he is lacking right now, he’s learning. He’s growing up. He sees things. Down the backside if you get a chance to look at the head on there are a lot of shadows back there from the sun at this point. He looked at every single one of them and he wouldn’t let me get him down close to the fence because he was looking at them too much.
“Then he kicked away like I wanted him to heading for home. Once that horse started to come at him I wanted to get into him a little bit just to get him going. If he was going to start playing again I thought `I just better stay riding and hope he could hang on at that point’ – which he did. I rode him well past the wire just to show him to keep running. I didn’t want to think it was over when he hit the wire. Once that horse got next to him he galloped out and was back on the bridle.
“I thought I was in front at the wire but I rode him past the wire so far I forgot where the dang wire was. I just kept riding him. Paco Lopez went celebrating and I thought `did he get me?’ I thought I hung on. We were blessed to hang on.”
Saffie Joseph, Jr., trainer of Ny Traffic: “I thought he ran good. Coming into this race, he missed a work and I was a little concerned: Did we have enough. At the quarter pole you could see Authentic was cruising and my horse was off the bridle. To dig down and dig deep you can’t be more proud of that. I was pretty sure we lost when I first saw it. We were a head in front right after the bob at the wire. I just want to keep going forward. That’s the important thing. Hopefully all goes well to the Kentucky Derby and we’re living the dream.”
Paco Lopez, aboard Ny Traffic: “I was sure I got him – 100 percent. I can’t believe it. I’m surprised we didn’t win. I really thought we got him.”
Authentic narrowly edges out Ny Traffic to take the 2020 @TVG Haskell at @MonmouthPark! #WinAndYoureIN #WAYIpic.twitter.com/W1EAXVYetL