Baffert's Derby Hand is full of Aces

By Don August
May. 03, 2020

In a matter of just over one hour on Saturday, hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert’s chances of winning this years addition of the Kentucky Derby went from good to you-have-to-be-kidding-me.

Baffert sent out the favorite in both halves of the Arkansas Derby with both having something to prove.

Mission accomplished.

First up was Charlatan, who was making his first start out of California as well as his first attempt at stakes competition. Yes he was in the weaker half of the split race, but that didn’t stop him from looking impressive nonetheless.

Grabbing the lead out of the gate, the son of Speightstown out of Authenticity, took command early and was never threatened, covering the 1 1/8 mile in 1:48.49 while winning by 6 lengths.

Mission accomplished for the colt who is now 3-for-3.

Two races later, the more advanced Nadal took to the track in a race that had a handful of worthy challengers. It turned out to be no problem.

Nadal rated off the lead of Wells Bayou, made his move around the far turn and ran off down the stretch, holding off a challenge from King Guillermo for a 3 length win in a time of 1:48.34.

Both Baffert winners had similar times and both had speed ratings for the race almost identical.

So did we learn anything from these races ?

We learned Charlatan had a lot left in the tank, having run his race as his own pace. Knowing that wont happen in the Kentucky Derby, still leaves the question of what he will do when he is pressed.

For Nadal we learned he can rate off the lead. In his first three wins, Nadal had been in front or battling for the lead every step of the way. Showing the ability to relax a little early in the race may be the thing that puts Nadal on top in the pre derby rankings.

So with just over 4 months to go until the scheduled derby date of September 5th, Charlatan and Nadal joined Barcley Tagg’s Florida based, Tiz the Law, as the early favorites.

But what if I told you that it’s just possible that the best Baffert three-year-old didn’t even race Saturday?

That’s right, in my opinion, Authentic, may just be the winner of the derby come September.

The son of Into Mischief out of Flawless, has already won the Grade 2 San Felipe and the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. He is still chillin at Santa Anita , waiting for the Santa Anita Derby to be run.

The trio give Baffert the distinct possibility of having the top three finishers in the 146th Kentucky Derby.