The Bob Baffert trained Authentic is the solid betting favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
Delayed 4 ½ months due to the pandemic, the Preakness closes out the 2020 Triple Crown. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes (G1) but is skipping the race in favor of heading straight to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Authentic won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and looks to become the leader of the class this afternoon.
The Preakness serves as a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which will be held at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
Authentic has won five of his six career starts, his lone loss a runner up finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on June 6. John Velazquez has the return call and breaking from the nine post.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is seeking a record eighth win in the Preakness. He is tied for the all-time record at seven with R. Wyndham Walden.
Baffert is bullish on his chances with the 9-5 favorite Authentic.
“He would have been ready to roll in two weeks. I feel pressure now because I never lost a Preakness with a horse I won the Derby with,” Baffert said. “Now the pressure’s on me.”
Baffert has a back up in Thousand Words (6-1) who flipped in the paddock at the Kentucky Derby and was a late scratch. The colt won the Shared Belief at Del Mar in gate to wire fashion on Aug. 1 in his last outing, his fourth win in seven career starts.
Art Collector is Back
Art Collector had to scratch out of the Derby with a minor foot issue and is back as the 5-2 second choice. The Tom Drury trainee won the Blue Grass (G2) and Ellis Park Derby in his last two starts.
“The Derby was disappointing because he was training so well leading up to it, but, gosh, I feel like he’s doing equally as well right now,” Drury said. “We’re ready to take our best shot.”
The racing universe is usually focused just on Pimlico on Preakness Day but that will not be the case today.
Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races on Tap
Keeneland is offering up four Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races including the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
Belmont Park has five stakes on today’s card including the $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) which is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
The other four stakes will also likely produce Breeders’ Cup starters, particularly the $250,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) which is a major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes 14 races covering all of the major stakes races. I also have full card reports for Pimlico and Belmont Park that include my selections, analysis and fair odds line.
Let’s head out to Pimlico for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Pimlico Race 11 The Preakness Stakes G1 (5:36 ET)
#9 Authentic 9-5
#4 Swiss Skydiver 6-1
#5 Thousand Words 6-1
#8 Max Player 15-1
The Baffert trainee took the field gate to wire to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) in impressive fashion. Baffert has a great track record in this race, winning it seven times, five with Derby winners coming back off a two-week break. Now it’s a month and the colt has a couple of sharp works and this colt just seems to get better with each outing. His lone loss was a runner up finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind Honor A.P. The colt owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and horses on or close to the lead have fared well although the racing surface as not as “speed friendly” as some say it is. We have had two wire winners in the past six years and 6 in the last 29 years. Favorites have fared well winning 14 of the last 34 editions but remember those were coming back in two weeks. This colt can handle the distance and he is going to be tough in this spot although his price is going to be on the short side.
Kentucky Derby Replay
The lady takes on the boys and fillies have won this race five times, Rachel Alexandra the last in 2009 although the first since Nellie Morse in 1924. The McPeek trainee has already taken on males, running a good second in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland back in July behind Art Collector, who won the Ellis Park Derby in his next start. She returned to win the Alabama (G1) at the Spa and then run second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Her last three figs are competitive, and she has landed in the exacta in 8 of her 10 career starts. She gets three pounds from her male counterparts and should be forwardly placed and that is where you want to be in this race. Decent value if we catch most of the 6-1 morning line.
Kentucky Oaks Replay
This colt was my fourth choice in the Derby, and he ended up getting scratched after flipping in the paddock. He took the field gate to wire to win the Shared Belief at Del Mar over Honor A.P. He was no match for Authentic when fourth in the San Felipe (G2) back in March but has moved forward quite a bit since that encounter. Baffert adds blinkers and it will be interesting to see where Geroux places this guy early as he has some speed and with the hood added seems capable of being right in the mix early, but he certainly does not want to hook up with his stablemate.
Shared Belief Stakes Replay
WIN: Authentic to win at 9-5 or better.
EXACTA: 9/ 3,4,6,8 and 4,9 / 4,5,8,9