LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With the tumult of social justice protesters circling the perimeter of Churchill Downs, Authentic delivered a jarring upset in Kentucky Derby 146, toppling favored Tiz the Law with a powerful gate-to-wire victory.
Ridden masterfully by John Velasquez, Authentic broke from the far outside in post position 18, moved to the lead and never relinquished it, even while pressured by Tiz the Law in the stretch.
The victory was the sixth in the Derby for trainer Bob Baffert, which tied the Derby record set by Ben Jones. After the race Baffert described the victory as his most emotional win because his assistant and good friend, Jimmy Barnes, suffered a broken arm in the paddock 20 minutes before race when another Baffert horse, Thousand Words, reared, flipped and knocked Barnes to the ground.
"He should be here," Baffert said. "I told John before the race, 'Do it for Jimmy.' "
Velasquez and Authentic did it, holding off Tiz the Law, the 3-to-5 favorite, by 1 1/4 lengths. It was two lengths back to Mr. Big News, who held off Honor A.P. for 1 3/4 lengths for third. Authentic covered the mile-and-a-quarter is a crisp 2:00.61.
It was the colt's fifth win in six starts. The winner paid $18.80.
"I've seen some great Derby rides but what that (Velasquez) did was incredible" said Baffert, who won has also won the Derby with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018). The last two colts also won the Triple Crown.
"I feel very blessed and fortunate," Baffert said. "He was training just lights out. He's a good horse. He was our number one horse from the beginning of the year."
"I'm not taking the credit," Velasquez said. "Give it to the horse. Every time I asked him for more, he gave me more."
Baffert said that Velasquez shared his plan to win the race by controlling the pace when the jockey and trainer had dinner during the week at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse in downtown Louisville.
"I had a plan and Johnny had a plan," Baffert said. "I told him I liked his plan better."
Only 15 horses competed in the $3 million race. Two scratched earlier in the week and Thousand Words had to be scratched 20 minutes before post-time after he reared and flipped onto the ground before he could be saddled in the paddock.
Saturday's race at was met without the usual spectacle or mammoth crowd. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no fans were allowed in the stands, other than owners and essential personnel. The race was rescheduled and contested 18 weeks after its traditional first Saturday in May because of COVID-19.
The day was, however, met with plenty of opposition. Planned protests by several groups — national social justice group Until Freedom and armed militia group the NFAC ("Not F---ing Around Coalition) — marched and chanted outside the track as well as across downtown Louisville.
Until Freedom on Friday called for the race to be canceled with cries of "No Justice, No Derby" at a rally outside Churchill Downs calling for justice for the death of Breonna Taylor.
Despite the nontraditional Derby, some Louisville residents and visitors said they would be holding onto their usual traditions to try to enjoy Saturday's race. Some visiting Wagner's Pharmacy across from Churchill Downs, with others still dressing up in their finest Derby garb to grill out and watch the race.
Horse owners have said they will collaborate to give a portion of their winnings to backside workers who have struggled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Words exchanged between armed militia group, protesters at Jefferson Square Park
- Until Freedom demonstrators call for cancellation of race on eve of Kentucky Derby
- Despite nontraditional Derby, Louisville residents, visitors holding onto traditions
- Horse owners collaborate to give portion of winnings to backside workers
- City braces for protests outside Churchill Downs on the most unusual Derby Day in history
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