Bob Baffert’s unbeaten trio lighting up the road to Churchill Downs

Bob Baffert at Churchill Downs

Leading American trainer Bob Baffert appears to have a vintage crop of three-year-olds to tackle the rescheduled Kentucky Derby this September, bolstered by a memorable double on Saturday night at Oaklawn when winning both divisions of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer is now responsible for three of the top four horses in the antepost market for the Louisville highlight…

Charlatan

The son of Speightstown couldn’t have won more impressively when making it three from three in the first division of the Arkansas Derby on Saturday under Martin Garcia.

He may have taken on a slightly inferior field to Nadal and clocked a fractionally slower time, but the visual impression he created was very strong, always appearing to be in his comfort zone while able to get his rivals on the stretch.

He has now moved to 4-1 favouritism for the run for the roses, while Bet365 have priced him up as 5-1 joint-favourite with stablemate Nadal, and he clearly looks a major player for the first Classic of the American season.

Baffert hasn’t held back in his praise for the promising colt, describing him as “a smaller version of [2018 Triple Crown hero] Justify”.

Nadal

The horse who shares his name with a Spanish tennis great produced a performance that appeared to be full of substance in winning the tougher division of the Arkansas Derby in a quicker time than Charlatan.

He didn’t always look like pulling away to win by the eventual margin of three lengths, but there was plenty to like about how he knuckled down when pressure was applied, shaping as though the Kentucky Derby distance should be right up his street.

Priced between 5-1 and 7-1 for Churchill Downs glory this autumn, the son of promising sire Blame, who memorably denied Zenyatta a farewell win in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, looks a major threat to his market-leading stablemate.

In particular, his attitude looks rock-solid, judged on his previous gutsy victory in the Rebel Stakes.

Authentic

The dogs at Santa Anita have been barking all spring about the hugely exciting Into Mischief colt, who made it three wins from three starts when landing the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in impressive fashion a couple of months ago.

That decisive display backed up a wide-margin win in the Sham Stakes (Grade 3), an effort that suggested he could be an exceptional three-year-old in the making.

A first Grade 1 test could be forthcoming in the Santa Anita Derby, whenever it is that racing resumes in California, and the current best price of 8-1 looks highly likely to shorten if he maintains his unbeaten record then.

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