As the runners line up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 7, Bob Baffert may be doing a Chuck Daly imitation. …How’s that you ask?…It looks like Big Race Bob has assembled a Dream Team for this $6 million event.
For those that don’t recall, the 1992 Summer Olympics featured a United States basketball team like no other. As NBA players were allowed to participate for the first time ever, the USA squad featured eleven players that would become members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan were perhaps the three most recognizable names on a team that brought home the gold, but the stars were plentiful up and down the bench.
The 2020 mile and a quarter Classic at Keeneland race course will see Baffert bring in a formidable line up of stars that might be reminiscent of those legendary hoopsters. His runners may not be as recognizable to the common sports fans as those players from ’92, but their talent level jumps out of the gym.
The shooting guard for the hall of fame conditioner is Maximum Security. Having crossed the finish line first in eleven of thirteen career starts, this son of New Year’s Day is a horse that can flat score. Full of heart and with plenty of speed and stamina, his recent works say he is coming in right. His last race was a second place finish in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita on September 26, but Baffert throws that one out.
“We probably shouldn’t have run him in that spot because I don’t think he was ready,” says Baffert. “He didn’t like the track at Santa Anita that day but he seems to be doing great right now.”
The power forward in the lineup is Improbable. Much like Karl “the Mailman” Malone, this athlete has really delivered. Three consecutive grade 1 wins have seen this son of City Zip mature into a real force. A versatile runner, his front-running score in the Whitney at Saratoga was followed by a worst to first romp in the Awesome Again as he blew past stable mate Maximum Security.
“We always thought he was a good horse, now he’s just getting really good,” says Baffert. “We just need him to be really good one more time this year.”
The third member of Baffert’s Classic lineup is the swingman, Authentic. An athlete that has demonstrated outstanding ability in registering five wins and two seconds in seven career starts, this son of Into Mischief is a slasher. He took the highly favored Tiz The Law to the hoop in winning the 2020 Kentucky Derby before just missing in the Preakness on October 4.
“He came out of the Preakness in good shape, he just lost focus,” says the thee-time winner of the Classic (2014, 2015, 2016). “The key for him is to get engaged early and remain focused. He’s very talented and has a lot of speed.”
Does a four-time grade 1 winner (Improbable) and the two horses that crossed the finish line first in the last two Kentucky Derbies (Maximum Security 2019, Authentic 2020) compare to the likes of coach Chuck Daly’s arsenal?… Tip time for the Classic is set as the final race of a spectacular two-day event.