By Nicholas Godfrey
Monmouth Park: Haskell Stakes G1 $1m 1m, dirt, 3yo
Authentic (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith)
Bob Baffert duly landed his ninth victory in the $1 million Haskell with an all-the-way effort from odds-on shot Authentic – but it was a nailbiter in the last 50 yards as he struggled to repel the renewed challenge of NY Traffic.
The 3-10 favourite had things all his own way up front and looked sure to register a straightforward triumph as he pulled a couple of lengths ahead after turning for home, only for NY Traffic to bear down on him close home.
Authentic held on – by a nose. But with an extra furlong to consider, the performance will have done little to advertise his Kentucky Derby chances.
Bob Baffert (trainer): “I was like everybody else, like I’m telling Mike, ‘You better stay after him. You’ve got to keep him busy because he looks at everything.’ I could tell he wasn’t focused coming down the stretch, but he held on. When he saw a horse coming at him, he took off again.”
Mike Smith (jockey): “He’s an extremely talented horse, has an abundance of talent – but he’s still got some growing up to do.”
Saratoga: Paris Lights enters Kentucky Oaks picture
Saratoga: Coaching Club American Oaks G1 $350,000 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies
Paris Lights (Bill Mott/Tyler Gaffalione)
With favourite Tonalist’s Shape rank in the early stages in first-time blinkers, a stirring finish ensued in this major Kentucky Derby trial between a pair of two WinStar-owned fillies. Paris Lights, a daughter of Curlin stepping out of allowance company, just got the better of maiden winner Crystal Ball by a head after an extended stretch battle. Altaf didn’t run.
Next up for Paris Lights is the G1 Alabama on August 15, followed by the Kentucky Oaks three weeks later.
Bill Mott (trainer): “She broke her maiden and we were able to get another allowance race in her for experience and build on that experience a bit and on her confidence level. It paid off today.”
Tyler Gaffalione (jockey): “My filly just kept digging in. The other filly was a little stubborn to get by, but my filly is all class.”
Decorated Invader confirms top turfer status
Saratoga: National Racing Museum Hall of Fame Stakes G2 $150,000 1m1f, turf, 3yo
Decorated Invader (Christophe Clement/Joel Rosario)
Decorated Invader cemented his position as the leading turf three-year-old in the country as he scored by a length and a quarter. Content to sit seven lengths off front-running Get Smokin down the back stretch, the 2-5 favourite made up the ground easily enough but needed a few strides to put that rival away before going away close home.
Already a G1 winner at two, he is likely to reappear in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby, part of NYRA’s Turf Triple Series, on August 15.
Christophe Clement (trainer): “He’s a top-class horse and has been since Day One for me. I love him. I love the way he trains. I love the way he races. It’s a different scenario every time we run him, but the final outcome is the same. I thought he looked better in the last sixteenth of a mile than he did before that. He actually won going away at the end.”