Thousand Words Fine, Assistant Trainer Has Broken Arm; Derby Handle Down; Spa Recap

By US Racing Team

Thousand Words is just fine. It’s Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer who had the biggest issue before the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Thousand Words - Horse

Thousand Words – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s longtime assistant, suffered a broken arm, according to the trainer when Thousand Words flipped over in the paddock and had to be scratched from Saturday’s Derby, won by Baffert’s other entry Authentic.

“So, the good news is the horse is absolutely fine. He did misbehave in the paddock and was scratched after he fell over sort of onto his side,’’ said Kathleen Anderson, the American Association of Equine Practitioners on‑call vet.

“He (was) returned to the stable area. Had a thorough examination by Dr. Kevin Dunlavy, his regular practitioner, and has been cleared for service with not a scratch upon him. So we’re very pleased with that outcome.”

The same can’t be said for Barnes, unfortunately.

“Unbelievable. I’m worried about Jimmy (Barnes). He broke his arm, [is] what happened,’’ said Baffert, who was upended in the winner’s circle by a rowdy Authentic after the race and fell to the ground. “All I can say is this horse (Authentic) ran out of his mind. Johnny V (jockey John Velazquez) – perfect ride. I owe it all to my crew. Jimmy, poor guy is in an ambulance right now, can’t enjoy it. This is so emotional the ups and downs in this game. Unbelievable.”

And what about your fall, Bob?

“This horse is very skittish. He’s a quirky horse, that’s why he runs with ear plugs,’’ said Baffert of Authentic. “The garland of roses, for some reason, I’ve never seen it. They had a long red ribbon at the end of them. And it was hitting his hind leg and it was spooking him.

“Every time he would feel it, he spun around. He was like a bowling ball. He just bowled us all down. He got me. Actually, I was lucky I was ‑‑ the turf course is pretty soft here, so it wasn’t too bad. I was probably more embarrassed than anything when I hit the ground.”

No surprise: Derby Day handle drops, by a lot

Authentic - Horse

Authentic Winning The Kentucky Derby – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Total handle on the Kentucky Derby was $79.4 million, according to Churchill Downs, down more than half from the record $165.5 million wagered in the 2019 Derby.

That’s a drop of 52 percent from last year’s Derby run on the traditional first Saturday in May to this Derby on the first Saturday in September – delayed four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Churchill Downs also said all-sources wagering on Derby Day was $126 million compared to $250.9 million last year.

The 15-horse field in Saturday’s race was the smallest since 13 started in the 1997 Derby (there were also 15 starters in the ’98 Derby). Last year, the field was 19. Also, no spectators other than owners were on-site.

“The decline in handle for this year’s Derby Day program is attributable to the lack of on-track wagering, fewer horses per race including in the Kentucky Derby race, and a prohibitive favorite in the Derby race,’’ Churchill Downs said. “Although it is difficult to compare the financial performance to prior years, we are pleased with the profitability of the spectator-less 2020 Derby Week.”

Let’s not forget the Jim Dandy, Woodward at the Spa

At Saratoga, where many of the top riders bypassed the Derby, Mystic Guide came from last-to-first under Jose Ortiz and won the $150,000 Jim Dandy (G2) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles.

Celtic Striker and First Line dueled through opening splits of 23.37 and 47.61 seconds. Jesus’ Team, under Luis Saez, made a move on the far turn as Godolphin’s Mystic Guide began to get going, eventually taking the lead from Liveyourbeastlife and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.00.

Dr Post, withdrawn from Derby consideration last week, finished fourth.

“I know he was last down the backside, but he was definitely there when Jose called on him today,’’ winning trainer Mike Stidham said. “Once he got through turning for home, I felt really good about him because he has a big kick. It really is a pleasure to win a race like this at Saratoga.”

Stidham said Mystic Guide could make his next start in the Preakness.

In the $500,000 Woodward (G1), Global Campaign ($7.80) led gate-to-wire and held off Tacitus by 1 ¾ lengths.

Ridden by Luis Saez, Global Campaign has now won 3-of-4 starts this year for trainer Stanley Hough. Tacitus, meanwhile, was coming off a win in the Suburban (G2) but once again finished second in a Grade 1 – he was the runner-up in the 2019 Belmont Stakes and in the Travers.

“I’m more than satisfied. He beat a good horse,’’ said Hough. “We’re all excited. It’s a great win. That’s what the game is all about. You try to develop horses that will go on and be a sire and I believe he’ll make a good one.”

Jose Ortiz, aboard the Bill Mott-trained Tacitus, gave credit to the winner.

“It was the perfect trip; we were very happy with the trip we had. It’s how Bill drew it up,’’ said Ortiz. “Kudos to the winner. He ran a huge race.”