Authentic, Charlatan and Nadal: with apologies to Alexandre Dumas, call them The Three Bafferteers.
Each horse is trained by two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert, each horse is undefeated, and each horse has never even been in a photo finish in a combined 10 career starts.
They have swash-buckled their way across the track, outdueling their foes while compiling $1,751,400 in earnings, and are among the top 10 in Kentucky Derby qualifying points, Nadal leading with 150, Charlatan fourth with 100 and Authentic eighth at 60.
Each is in prime pouncing position on the Triple Crown trail, although due to the current pandemic, the Triple Crown as we know it will not take place this year.
Instead of a potentially amazing Triple Crown, it has evolved into a maze of a Triple Crown, the traditional dates out of kilter with the Kentucky Derby scheduled on Sept. 5 instead of May 2, when it would have been run.
At this point, dates of the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, usually completed in a five-week span from the Run for the Roses, the Preakness two weeks later and the Belmont three weeks hence, are anybody’s guess.
But the Santa Anita Derby is not. Scrubbed from its original date of April 4, the Grade I, $400,000 test for three-year-olds at a mile and an eighth will be the feature event on June 6, when Santa Anita will present six other lucrative stakes.
They are the Grade I, $300,000 Gold Cup; the Grade II, $200,000 Santa Anita Oaks; the $150,000 Cinema Stakes; the $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes; the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes; and the $75,000 Desert Code Stakes.
The Santa Anita Derby is expected to be a rematch between Authentic and John Shirreffs trainee Honor A.P., who were one-two in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at a mile and one-sixteenth on March 7.
Honor A.P. worked seven furlongs this morning in 1:26.40. “He went very well and galloped out strong. Mike (Smith) was very pleased with him,” Shirreffs said.
“The Santa Anita Derby is going to be a good race,” allowed private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young. “Authentic and Honor A.P. look like the main two in what is shaping up as a short field. If Authentic is on the lead, that would definitely give him an edge.”
As to Nadal, who won his division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2 by three lengths while Charlatan captured his division of the race by six, leading throughout, Young gives the former a narrow edge.
“For Nadal to go at the breakneck pace in the Rebel and still win with no one gaining on him at the wire was very impressive,” Young said. “The only thing he had to prove before the race was that he could go long, and while I had my doubts, he certainly crossed that bridge successfully.
“He came back to win the second division of the Arkansas Derby against a far deeper field. King Guillermo ran a really good second in that race, but just ran into a better horse in Nadal.
“Charlatan looked good winning the first division, although Nadal ran a few ticks faster (1:48.20 to 1:48.40). Neither was exactly full throttle to the wire, but at this point I prefer Nadal over Charlatan by a slight margin.”