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Tales from the Crib: Authentic

“Did we just see the next Rachel Alexandra?” So marveled the New York Post after Peter E. Blum’s homebred filly Flawless looked just that in her scintillating career debut at Belmont Park on May 23, 2010. Unfortunately, she sustained an injury next time out and never raced again, but her story of untapped potential is being fulfilled through her son, Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Authentic. Blum named Flawless when she was a yearling, a clever synthesis drawn from her dam, Oyster Baby, and her beauty comparable to a pearl. He had purchased the unraced Oyster Baby, when carrying Flawless, for $160,000 at the 2007 Keeneland January Sale. The initial attraction was pedigree: Oyster Baby was a half-sister to another Blum acquisition, the well-related Dixie Holiday. (Eventually, Dixie Holiday would turn out to be the ancestress of such Group/Grade 1 winners as Dubai sprint legend Reynaldothewizard and Godolphin’s Seventh Street).But Oyster Baby also passed the eye test when assessed by his longtime associates, Dromoland Farm’s Gerry Dilger and Bridie Harrison. Dilger had a role in two Kentucky Derby winners in recent years. Involved in the purchase and reselling of 2016 champion Nyquist as a youngster, Dilger also bred 2017 Derby hero Always Dreaming in partnership. Dilger sadly passed away in March, but his early connection with Oyster Baby and Flawless helps to further his legacy. Blum, who co-bred 2009 Hopeful (G1) hero Dublin with Dilger, has been responsible for high-profile performers over decades as a commercial breeder. Five-time Grade 1 winner Devil His Due was a particularly prolific campaigner, bankrolling more than $3.9 million. Remarkably, Blum has bred notable stakes winners from one family during a 40-year span – including Academy Award, Well Chosen, Irish highweight Tomahawk, and more recently, 2018 Clark H. (G1) victor Leofric, whose fifth dam is the matron who started it all, Mono. Oyster Baby was a promising addition to Blum’s broodmare band. The daughter of inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) victor Wild Again made an immediate contribution with Flawless, her first foal, by Mr. Greeley. Offered as a yearling at the 2008 Keeneland September Sale, Flawless did not reach her reserve price when bidding maxed out at $285,000. Blum thereby retained her to race.The word was out was on Flawless by the time she made her premiere as a 3-year-old. As Albie Johnson observed in his “Belmont Notebook” on, the “homebred filly from the small but quality Peter Blum operation…had been rumored to be a runner ever since shipping here from Payson Park where she was prepared by trainer Bill Mott this past winter.”Dispatched as the 1.10-1 favorite in a 7-furlong maiden that spring day at Belmont, Flawless made the pre-race buzz look like an understatement. Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux had an armchair ride as she flashed speed, toyed with her rivals by letting them approach, then kicked away in hand. Flawless drew off by 13 1/4 lengths, impressing racecaller Tom Durkin who was positively bubbly:’s reaction was even more telling. The level-headed horseman made a bold statement, smiling, according to NYRA publicity:“She wasn’t cranked. She was only half ready. She’s worked very well and has a lot of ability.”Some might have been tempted to pitch Flawless straight into stakes company. In keeping with Mott’s conservative method, however, the plan was for her to progress through the allowance ranks and gain beneficial experience first. The 2-5 favorite when next appearing in a one-mile allowance at Belmont, Flawless swept from just off the pace to strike the front, only to labor late and get collared by a half-length. She had pulled 11 3/4 lengths clear of the third-placer, but Blum realized that all was not well. “My son and I were there, and we had a pretty good idea watching the race that something happened to the filly,” Blum recalled. “She bowed (a tendon) in the race.”