LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Authentic dueled with Tiz the Law in the final turn and upset the heavy favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Authentic led from start to finish and gave trainer Bob Baffert his record-tying sixth Derby champion.
Authentic covered 1¼ mile in 2:00.61, the seventh-fastest time ever in the Derby, and paid $18.80 to win. He is the first wire-to-wire Derby winner since 2002, when War Emblem won it for Baffert.
“Johnny V. gave them the most incredible ride,” said Baffert, who is tied with trainer Ben Jones. “The training was lights out. He was fresh. He’s a good horse. He’s our No. 1 pick from the beginning, and here we are. The greatest race in the world, and I feel very blessed and fortunate.”
Sent off at 3-5 as the biggest Derby favorite in 31 years, Tiz the Law stalked Authentic on the outside before challenging at the top of the stretch. But Authentic found another gear and pulled away from the Belmont winner.
“Yes! Yes!” Baffert shouted in the paddock, where he watched the race on the video screen.
Velazquez, 48, picked up his third win in the Derby. He also rode Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming in 2017.
Said Velazquez: “Obviously, Bob, from the beginning, said, ‘I’ve got a good one for you.’ This is it.”
Authentic has won five of his six career races, with his lone defeat coming in the Santa Anita Derby, where he finished sixth.
Along with Authentic and War Emblem, Baffert’s other Derby winners were Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. He stands alone in first with his 16 career wins in Triple Crown races, two more than D. Wayne Lukas in second.
Baffert’s other horse Saturday, Thousand Words, got spooked in the paddock, reared up and fell on his side shortly before post time. He was scratched by the veterinarians. Baffert said his assistant, Jim Barnes, was injured in the fall.
Mr. Big News, a 46-1 shot, finished third. Honor A. P. was fourth. The field of 15 was the smallest since 1998.
Rescheduled from its traditional first Saturday in May by the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Run For The Roses was the second jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The Preakness will be run Oct. 3.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.