Following an encouraging second in the San Felipe Stakes by Honor A.P. on March 7 behind undefeated Authentic, all systems were at the ready for a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. With unfortunate circumstances due to the Coronavirus pandemic that rematch had to be postponed. As it was for many horse and trainers this year, it was back to square one for the son of Honor Code trained by John Shirreffs.
The West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby is now set for June 6, when six additional stakes will be featured. The Run for the Roses had its traditional running date of the first Saturday in May moved to Sept. 5.
“We’re back to where we were before the San Felipe,” Shirreffs said, alluding to the five-month gap since Honor A.P.’s prior race, a maiden allowance test at a mile last Oct. 13, which he won on the lead by 5 ¼ lengths under Mike Smith. The Hall of Famer has been aboard Honor A.P. in each of his three races and will be on again in the Santa Anita Derby.
“He looks really good and he’s been training very well,” said Shirreffs, who has the ridgling owned by C R K Stables scheduled to have his seventh recorded breeze Thursday, May 14, since the San Felipe, which was decided at a mile and one sixteenth.
With a more favorable pace scenario in the Santa Anita Derby, Shirreffs hopes for a better outcome against the speedy Authentic, one of three spectacular undefeated sophomores trained by Bob Baffert, the others being Arkansas Derby divisional winners Charlatan and Nadal. The three rank fourth, third and first, respectively, in the current National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) poll.
“Authentic went to the lead (in the San Felipe) and dictated the pace pretty much all the way,” Shirreffs recalled, adding, “Since we weren’t racing here, I kind of backed off Honor A.P. a bit and didn’t work him too hard, but right now he’s training strong and I think he’s going to come into the Santa Anita Derby really well.”
Baffert has an additional ace up his sleeve with 3-year-old Azul Coast who won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate in February qualifying for a spot in the Preakness. The Super Saver colt also placed second to Authentic in the G3 Sham S. in January at Santa Anita with an Equibase Speed Figure of 101. His last workout at Santa Anita was May 9 where he did five furlongs on the dirt track in 1:01.20 handily ranking 21/77.
Edited Press Release
Photo: Honor A.P. gave Authentic a fierce run in the San Felipe Stakes in March at Santa Anita. Credit: @honor.ap on Instagram