LAS VEGAS, NV — Authentic’s loss of ground late in his Haskell Stakes (G1) victory Saturday may have eroded his faith among Kentucky Derby futures bettors. But he gained new ground in early wagering on the Breeders’ Cup.
No, not for the Classic. For the Dirt Mile.
In the 24 hours after the Haskell Stakes, Authentic was listed by three English bookmakers at odds no longer than 9-1. That made him the third choice for the Dirt Mile (G1) behind two-time Grade 1 winner Vekoma (4-1) and stable mate McKinzie (8-1). It also made him the shortest-priced 3-year-old among the 22 betting choices listed by the European website Oddschecker.
“He still has a lot of improving to do,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who still believes that he can turn Authentic into a legitimate contender for the 1¼-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) on Sept. 5.
But bettors here in the U.S. appeared to say the same thing as British bookmakers: the three-time graded-stakes winner is a miler.
In last weekend’s sixth pool of Churchill Downs’ pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Authentic was 8-1 before the Haskell. He drifted to 9-1 afterward and stayed there through the close of betting Sunday. That represents better value than fixed odds in Nevada, where Authentic is best-priced at 8-1.
The message that Authentic may not be a 10-furlong horse was also made loud and clear in betting on the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). With at least 13 bookmakers taking futures bets, some since April, his odds are as long as 25-1.
“He’s a quirky, little guy,” Baffert told reporters last week. “I think that it’s impressive that he shipped, he got on a plane, and he handled it well. That’s what you want to see. We’re going to work on him a little until (the Kentucky Derby).”
Baffert’s confidence notwithstanding, there are 13 horses carrying shorter odds than Authentic in the Classic futures. They are led by his new stable mate and last year’s disqualified Derby winner Maximum Security at 5-1.
The foreign futures for the Classic appear at first to be in lockstep with the KDFW. Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law is not only the 5-2 favorite to win the Derby, he is 7-1 to win the $7 million race Nov. 7 at Keeneland, making him the shortest-priced 3-year-old.
But a colt that fell off this year’s Derby trail is still getting the respect of overseas bookmakers for the Breeders’ Cup. Charlatan is 10-1 to win the Classic. That is in spite of questions about when he will be back from ankle surgery that makes him a question mark for the Oct. 3 running of the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Breeders’ Cup Classic odds are bound to make significant, weekly moves starting Saturday.
That is when Maximum Security comes off a five-month break from winning the Saudi Cup. Making his first start since being transferred to Baffert from indicted trainer Jason Servis, he is expected to be a heavy favorite for the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar.
“He trains like a really top horse,” Baffert said before the San Diego Handicap was postponed one week by a surge in coronavirus positives among Del Mar’s jockeys. “I’m actually a little bit nervous about it. I feel a little added pressure. But there’s a lot of pressure when you’re around good horses, and we always have that.”
Next week, Honor A. P. (6-1 KDFW, 14-1 Breeders’ Cup Classic) and Cézanne (18-1, 33-1) take their turns at Del Mar in the ungraded Shared Belief Stakes, a Derby points prep on Aug. 1. Then Tiz The Law is due back Aug. 8 at Saratoga to race 1 1/4 miles in the Travers (G1).
“He came out nice and strong,” lead owner Jack Knowlton said last week after Tiz The Law’s first breeze this summer at Saratoga. “Obviously the new racetrack was no impediment for him, so it’s just one more step.”
Not to be forgotten is Tom’s d’Etat. Bettors certainly have not. The 7-year-old by Smart Strike finished first in last month’s Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs for his fourth consecutive victory. That cut his Breeders’ Cup Classic odds from 20-1 to their current 12-1. His next race is the Aug. 1 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga against the likes of Code Of Honor (16-1) and McKinzie (25-1).
“He has a good record at Saratoga,” said trainer Al Stall Jr., noting last month that Tom’s d’Etat has won three of his four starts there. “There is no substitute for class.”
The fillies-and-mares division was also informed by last weekend’s pari-mutuel betting, in this case the second and final Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. Mirroring the KOFW, Gamine (7-1), Swiss Skydiver (10-1) and Speech (20-1) carry the shortest odds of the six 3-year-olds currently listed for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
But whether it is her Eclipse Award résumé or her backing by bettors, 5-year-old Midnight Bisou still owns this most competitive division. Among the five British shops posting odds for the Distaff, the five-time Grade 1 winner is a 4-1 favorite to finally break through in her third attempt to win the race. Her odds may shorten again Aug. 1 if she adds another Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, a race she won in thrilling fashion last year.
For now, Midnight Bisou is 20-1, actually a longer shot than Monomoy Girl at 14-1 and Gamine at 16-1. One reason may be that trainer Steve Asmussen is entertaining the idea of racing Midnight Bisou in the Classic, especially after her impressive second-place finish to Maximum Security in the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup.
“We have constantly discussed where we are at with her training and progression,” Asmussen said last month before Midnight Bisou won the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs. “But we know how well she performed against some of the world’s best racehorses in Saudi Arabia.”
Whenever it comes, Asmussen’s decision will go a long way toward shaping the odds in at least two divisions of the Breeders’ Cup. So will races over the next few weeks. And eventually Nevada race books are expected to add their own futures for the Classic. So this story has only begun to be written.