In the normal scheme of Peter Blum’s breeding program, he’s quite as likely to be planning progeny of a female line he’s had for four or five generations, perhaps more. To produce Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, however, Blum sent the broodmare Flawless, only a first-generation “Blum-bred,” to the high-class stallion Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday) back in the spring of 2016.

The breeder did note, however, that he “had some experience with this family that made me want to buy [second dam] Oyster Baby, who was a lovely mare” and one who produced a beautiful foal in Flawless, the dam of the Kentucky Derby winner.

Nor was this the only unusual factor in Flawless being a part of the Blum broodmare band. The decades-long experience that Blum has with racing and breeding has encouraged him to balance the books whenever possible, and he sells his better stock, especially colts, at premium sales around the country.

Into Mischief — bounding bay son of Harlan’s Holiday is the leading representative of the Storm Cat line today and is as hot as any stallion can be, with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic among two dozen stakes winners of 2020. He was the leading sire by gross earnings in 2019 and remains in the lead this season. (Spendthrift Farm photo)

Since he typically keeps some of the fillies, Blum bought back Flawless for $285,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. It looked like a damned good idea after that good-looking daughter of leading sire Mr. Greeley had won her maiden impressively by 13 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park. Flawless, however, bowed a tendon in her second start, gaining no black type, and after Blum and trainer Bill Mott had rehabbed the filly and returned her to training, the tendon flared up again and made it necessary to retire her permanently. The mare’s dam, the Wild Again mare Oyster Baby, was unraced and produced only three foals before her death at age seven.

As a result, Authentic went to the sales with two blank dams. This is the bugaboo of commercial breeders because nearly all buyers want to purchase performance, black-type performance, not its absence. Blum said, “People were questioning why I’d keep her: she didn’t win a stakes, would catalog with two blank dams, and I told Bill Mott that I’d have a lot of trouble selling foals out of this mare, but he said, ‘Sell all the other mares and keep this one.’”

Blum kept Flawless, in particular, he said, because “I’ve had some really good fillies over the years, but I’ve never had a filly who was as brilliant; as far as speed goes, nothing compared to Flawless.”

The 2017 colt out of Flawless, when he came to the sales, was a striking yearling. Even as a May foal, Authentic possessed the body mass and length to suggest that he was on the way to becoming a serious athlete. He had enough scope and presence to appeal to horsemen looking for athletic prospects, either to race or to resell, and once the bidding started for the handsome bay, it reached $350,000 before all others gave up and allowed a partnership of SF Bloodstock and Starlight West to sign the ticket for the colt.

Sent into training with Bob Baffert, Authentic won his debut on Nov. 9 last year at Del Mar and made his stakes debut on Jan. 4 of the new year in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, which he won like a very good thing, indeed. To date, the bay colt has won five of his six starts and notably filled out his dam’s lack of black type on the pedigree page.

Authentic is the fourth foal and third winner out of Flawless. The others sold profitably, but he was the mare’s first foal to make a seriously impressive price at $350,000. That’s a really good figure for a yearling with two blank dams, no matter what he looks like, and that sum also was the second-highest among all the yearlings sold on the second day of the September sale’s Book 3 (session 8 overall) in 2018.

The Kentucky Derby winner has a 2-year-old half-brother named Mint (Bodemeister) who is yet unraced, as well as a yearling half-brother, also by Bodemeister, who has been named Push Button. Blum said that he was retaining the two half-brothers to race. Flawless was bred back to Into Mischief for 2021 and is in foal on a February cover.

That cover date guarantees that the full brother to Authentic will not be a May foal like the Derby winner. In an interesting aside to the biases of the commercial market, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Country House, first-place finisher Maximum Security, last year’s English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, and this year’s Kentucky Derby winner are all May foals.

When the foal from Flawless arrives in late January, Blum noted, he will go into exactly the same program as his big brother. He said, “Bridie, her family and staff, we’ve been together a lot of years. They deserve all the credit for raising Authentic and a lot of other fine horses,” Blum said. “She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, but we think a lot alike.”

And then Blum summed up what it means to breed a winner of the Kentucky Derby: “When he was in the winner’s circle, it was a special moment. Winning the Derby isn’t something you really think you’re going to do. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, but I don’t know if I’d be any happier if I’d kept him. We breed and sell horses. To be able to breed and sell a Derby winner; you can’t get a better endorsement than that. I don’t believe I could be any happier.”