Authentic gives Baffert Kentucky Derby contender with Sham victory

AP Photo

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Authentic led all the way in winning the $100,000 Sham Stakes by 7 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita, giving five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert another contender for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Authentic ran a mile in 1:37.57 on Saturday. The colt was all business early in the race but once he approached the furlong pole, Authentic began to run erratically, altering course and nearly brushing the inner rail.

“I think the noise from the crowd made him react the way he did there in the stretch,” Van Dyke said. “His ears went toward the crowd, so I think that’s what caused it, but when he got down to the rail, he spooked himself again.”

Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Authentic paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20 in the field of six. It was his second career start.

“When I ran him the first time down at Del Mar, he was a little bit green that day, because I was debating whether or not to put blinkers on him,” Baffert said. “I didn’t, but he may need something to keep him a bit more focused.”

The victory, worth $60,000, increased Authentic’s career earnings to $91,200. He earned 10 points on the Kentucky Derby qualifying leaderboard.

Baffert, who has won the Sham a record six times, also saddled second-place finisher, Azul Coast, who was last early and rallied to finish 1 1/2 lengths in front of Zimba Warrior.

Azul Coast paid $3.20 and $2.40, while 33-1 Zimba Warrior returned $5.40 to show.