The morning after a very big day at the Breeders’ Cup, Bob Baffert reflected on his success in the Keeneland event.
To recap: Baffert’s Authentic and Improbable finished 1-2 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Maximum Security coming in fifth. Gamine won the Filly & Mare Sprint while setting a track record. On the undercard, Merneith, a 3-year-old American Pharoah filly, won the Fort Springs Stakes.
In the Classic, “I was just proud of the way they ran, they were just trained well,” Baffert said Sunday morning from the Keeneland backstretch. “Down deep, I knew I was going to win it with one of them. I just wasn’t sure. When you come in loaded like that — it would have been nice to run 1-2-3. And it would have been horrible not to win with the three.”
Baffert said Authentic, who won the Kentucky Derby but then lost to Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness, “vindicated himself” for that loss.
“He’s just getting better, he’s maturing. And I could just tell, the way he was training, he’s caught up with these older horses. He’s just so quick, he’s fast.”
He said jockey John Velazquez rode the Into Mischief colt “like he did in the Derby — he got aggressive.”
Baffert called Authentic “quirky.”
“He’s just always looking, always looking at something. And down the backside, he was really relaxed and when a horse came to him, he wanted to go,” Baffert said. “He felt the horse coming and he wanted to go. And (Velazquez) was just slowing him down…
“That Authentic, he’s serious. He’s a great horse. What he did yesterday — that was a tough field, and he just ran away from that field,” Baffert continued. “Improbable’s a really good horse. Turning for home, I thought Improbable was going to kick in there. That Authentic, he caught another gear and he was just gone.”
Baffert noted Improbable “ran a good race.
“He was wide the whole way and only got beat 2 1/2 lengths,” Baffert said.
The Hall of Fame trainer also touched on Maximum Security, who entered off a disappointing second in the Awesome Again (G1) after winning the the Pacific Classic (G1) in late summer.
“He just went out of form. Unfortunately, he just didn’t have it,” Baffert said.
Meanwhile, Gamine’s return to a one-turn sprint proved a smashing success. The star 3-year-old filly romped to a 6 1/2-length win in the Filly & Mare Sprint while earnings a Breeders’ Cup-high 110 Beyer Speed Figure.
“I was so proud of her. To me, that’s the horse I wanted to win so badly because — what she’s gone through, she’s a sweet horse, she’s a just brilliant filly,” Baffert said. “When she turned for home — wow, she put those afterburners on and she just took off. And I think eventually, next year — she’s maturing too, you know. Yesterday, she was perfect, she just ran straight as a string.”
Baffert also added he was “proud of little Merneith, my little American Pharoah. I wanted an American Pharaoh to win so badly here, and she won and she sort of set the pace for the day. The day before, things didn’t go well, and you think, well, I hope that’s not going to be tomorrow. But we’ve got the aces in tomorrow. So they all came through.
The Friday that Baffert was referring to include a disappointing fifth-place finish for 9-5 favourite Princess Noor in the Juvenile Fillies and an eighth-place finish for Classier in the Juvenile.
With Princess Noor — fifth out of seven in the race won by Vequist — “I was sort of disappointed,” Baffert said. “She just wasn’t there, and that’s on me. I didn’t have her as ready as I thought.”
And in the Juvenile, won by Essential Quality, “I didn’t know there was a rabbit in the race until afterwards. And so I wish we would have taken hold of him. I think he’s a good horse. We were asking him to do a lot, but it’s a Breeders’ Cup. And he’s a really good horse.”