The 2020 Haskell Stakes (G1) produced an exciting finish when heavy favorite Authentic (3/5) held off a late-surging Ny Traffic (7/1) to win the 1 1/8 mile race by a nose. The victory for Bob Baffert-trained Authentic was his fourth in five starts and also produced his second-fastest Equibase Speed Figure (109).
But track bias and conditions can affect the outcome and pace of a race, and speed was strong over the Monmouth Park main track on July 18.
After leading by a full length over Ny Traffic for the opening three quarter mile of the race, Authentic moved out to a 2 ½ length lead in the stretch. But the tiring track took hold in the final sixteenth as Authentic desperately held on after some right handed urging by jockey Mike Smith. Ny Traffic lost ground in the upper stretch, but jockey Paco Lopez got his colt to respond gamely and just missed with a final surge at the wire.
Ny Traffic has continued to mature and improve during his sophomore season for EPO trainer Joseph Saffie, Jr. In four graded stakes races this year, Ny Traffic has finished runner-up three straight times after coming in third in the Risen Star (G2) in February. His Equibase Speed Figure has increased each race from 91 to 109 in the Haskell – his first triple-digit speed figure in nine starts.
What bettors need to know ahead of the Kentucky Derby
Following the Haskell Stakes, bettors were not impressed with Authentic. Seven weeks ahead of the rescheduled Kentucky Derby (G1) on Sept. 5, wagering was completed Sunday in Pool 6 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW). The pool generated $126,000 in gross win pool wagers for the Derby.
Authentic closed at odds of 9/1 with 9,653 in win bets. That placed him fifth in the Derby futures pool behind leader Tiz the Law (5/2), who generated $28,273 in win bets.
Pool 6 odds for the top contenders in the 2020 Kentucky Derby closed as follows:
|Horse||Pool 6 Odds||$2 Bet Payout|
|Tiz the Law||5/2||$7.20|
|Honor A. P.||6/1||$14.00|
For point of reference, following Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager in early March, Authentic (6/1) was the individual favorite ahead of Tiz the Law (7/1). Authentic was even ahead of Nadal (10/1) and Charlatan (12/1), two other Bob Baffert-trained colts who would become favorites in Pool 4. But injuries to Charlatan and Nadal near June 1 ended their Derby dreams and shook up the Triple Crown trail.
Churchill Downs added additional qualifying races this summer for the rescheduled Kentucky Derby. That included major points races for the Belmont Stakes and Haskell. There were also three additional KDFW pools added. Pool 5 generated the most win wagers with $219,945 plus another $117,661 in the Exacta pool.
Tiz the Law remains Kentucky Derby favorite
Tiz the Law (2/1) was still the favorite in Pool 5 ahead of Honor A. P. (6/1) Authentic (11/1), Uncle Chuck (13/1) and Art Collector (20/1), who went on to win the Blue Grass Stakes impressively to improve his standing the most of the top-5. However, bettors are becoming believers in Ny Traffic as he continues to improve and show he can perhaps be even better at the Classic 1 ¼ mile distance of the Kentucky Derby. Ny Traffic was 57/1 in Pool 5 and now 19/1 after finishing a very close second in the Haskell.
However, Ny Traffic has yet to win a stakes race. So is asking him to win the biggest race in a 20-horse field against the best 3-year-olds in training too much? Projecting improvement of 3-year-olds is key and part of the process when handicapping and betting on the Kentucky Derby.
So is determining 3-year-olds distance capability and answering questions about running the added distance of 1 ¼ miles. That’s where Authentic is coming up short for bettors, as he lost ground running up front at a shorter 1 ⅛ mile distance in both the Haskell and Santa Anita Derby (G1). Honor A. P. passed Authentic in the stretch and pulled away to win the June 6 Santa Anita Derby by nearly 3 lengths.
Finally, Tiz the Law and Dr Post finished first and second in the Belmont Stakes on June 20. They were the only two colts to run in that race from the contenders above, and the Belmont Stakes was contested at a shorter 1 ⅛ mile distance for the first time ever.
The post time favorite has won six of the last seven Kentucky Derby’s after last year’s controversial finish produced a huge longshot winner in Country House (65/1). The 2019 Kentucky Derby produced record betting and an all-sources handle of $165.5 million. Tiz the Law is still the horse to beat and will be the favorite in the 2020 Kentucky Derby. But a clean trip and some racing luck will still be needed to prevail over Authentic, Ny Traffic and the top contenders in a huge field of more maturing and improving 3-year-olds lined up to take their best shot.