With three weeks until the 2020 Preakness date of Oct. 3 and just under two months until the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has the No. 1 horse in both of the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.
Maximum Security leads the Top Thoroughbred Poll after 27 out of the 37 media members put him in the first position on their ballots. In the Top Three-Year-Old Poll, Authentic received 23 of the 37 votes to earn the No. 1 spot among the sophomores.
That pair of top-ranked runners was joined in the top 10 lists by three others from the Baffert barn. Improbable showed up in the No. 5 position behind Maximum Security. Thousand Words was ranked at No. 6 and the filly Gamine was No. 8, following their stablemate Authentic.
Having a trainer with two horses ranked on top of both of these polls is unusual, but not for Baffert. During Justify's campaign for the Triple Crown in 2018 he was the top 3-year-old in the June 4 poll, while West Coast was the No. 1 older Thoroughbred.
The Baffert barn, which clearly has had its ups and downs in 2020, is looking strong heading toward the Preakness and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Those two races will play a significant part in the determination of year-end poll rankings.
Authentic and Thousand Words will give Baffert the opportunity to win his eighth Preakness, which would make him the winningest trainer in the history of that race. Baffert is tied with R. Wyndham Walden, who won his seven during the late 1800s.
Authentic gave Baffert his sixth Kentucky Derby victory, which put him in a tie with the legendary Ben Jones for the most wins in the Run for the Roses. Baffert knows how to prepare for the Preakness whether it is with the usual two weeks after the Derby or this year’s month between races.
“He came out very well, very well,” Baffert said of Authentic. “He’s ready to go. We would have been ready to go in two weeks.”
After getting scratched in the paddock before the Derby, Thousand Words will head to Baltimore with a longer-than-expected layoff. A win in the Preakness also would give Baffert his 17th Triple Crown victory.
“Thousand Words, he’s fine,” Baffert said. “When he went up he sort of lost his footing and was on his side. He was OK and was checked out. He’s doing well.”
Maximum Security and Improbable give Baffert the opportunity to win his fourth Breeders’ Cup Classic. His three wins came when he won the race in consecutive years, beginning in 2014 with Bayern, followed by American Pharoah and Arrogate.
The reigning 3-Year-Old Champion Maximum Security is unbeaten this year, with victories in the Saudi Cup, the San Diego Handicap (G2) and the Pacific Classic (G1). Improbable heads to the Classic in the best form of his career, with a pair of Grade 1 wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Whitney.
Consensus Top 10
Matt Shifman's Top 10
1. Maximum Security (27)
1. Maximum Security
2. Vekoma (7)
3. Tom’s d’Etat (3)
3. Tiz the Law
4. Monomoy Girl
5. Monomoy Girl
6. By My Standards
7. Midnight Bisou
7. By My Standards
8. Tiz the Law
8. Tom’s d’Etat
9. Midnight Bisou
10. Rushing Fall
10. Rushing Fall