Authentic won the Kentucky Derby Saturday.
The horse trained by Southern California’s Bob Baffert beat a run at the lead by favorite Tiz the Law. But Authentic led much of the race and held off the challenge.
Authentic took the lead by the first turn and remained there. Racing Hall of Fame inductee John Velazquez was the jockey. Baffert, whose home stables are at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, is also a Hall of Fame inductee.
Favorite Tiz the Law finished second after challenging down the home stretch, while long shot Mr. Big News finished third.
It was the third Derby win for Velazquez and a record-equaling the sixth for Baffert, whose American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, become the first horse to win Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes in 37 years.
The 146th edition of the race was postponed from May 2 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It took place without fans in attendance but remained one of the most televised sporting events in the United States, with an average annual viewership of 15 million. (NBC televises the Derby).
It came amid national strife over police use of force against Black Americans and the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25.
Closer to home Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was fatally shot in her sleep by police entering her Louisville home March 13 during service of a “no knock” warrant. No arrests have been made.
Racial justice demonstrators stood off against counterprotesters and right-wing armed militia in Louisville Saturday as the Derby got underway nearby.
The traditional playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” presented another controversy Saturday as the nation’s renewed focus on racial justice prompted race organizers to modify the event.
This year it was played by bugler Steve Buttleman, instead of the usual University of Louisville marching band, and included a moment of “silence and reflection” afterward, said Tonya Abeln, vice president of communications at the Churchill Downs Foundation, by email.