Bayern survives inquiry, wins BC Classic
By Jay Privman
ARCADIA, Calif. – A Breeders’ Cup Classic that was set up to be a clean-cut title-decider for Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male instead had a wholly unsatisfying ending Saturday at Santa Anita, where Bayern led from start to finish after clobbering several rivals at the start but was left the winner by the stewards after a lengthy inquiry.
Bayern ($14.20) held off Toast of New York to win by a nose, with California Chrome another neck back in third. But immediately leaving the gate, Bayern took a left-hand turn, the incident appearing to bother Shared Belief, V. E. Day, and Moreno, who was perhaps the only horse who could have challenged Bayern for the early lead.
Kim Sawyer, who along with Scott Chaney and Tom Ward are Santa Anita’s stewards, said the inquiry focused on the contact between Bayern and Shared Belief, who finished fourth.
“When the contact occurred at the start, according to the rules, we thought the horse was not cost a better placing,” Sawyer said of Shared Belief’s placing.
She said the stewards believed Moreno, who finished last, came out and contributed to the incident.
She said the decision by the stewards was unanimous.
Ninety minutes after the race, the California Horse Racing Board released a statement from Chaney that said, in part, “The incident occurred in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they were reasonably expected to finish.”
Bayern, afforded the opportunity to get to the front without pressure from Moreno, set fractions of 23.12 seconds, 46.44, 1:10.22, and 1:34.16 before completing 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track in 1:59.88 in a race that saw 3-year-olds sweep the first six spots in the field of 14.
Toast of New York was second throughout in an admirable performance in his first try on dirt. He also veered left 100 yards into the race and caused a second incident that also appeared to hinder Shared Belief.
California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, was third throughout while racing in the clear. He was not involved in any bumping.
Shared Belief, previously unbeaten, wound up fourth.
“I think it cost me the race,” Mike Smith, the rider of Shared Belief, said of the start. “I was never able to get comfortable after getting hit at the break.”
Shared Belief was followed by Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, Candy Boy, Cigar Street, Zivo, Imperative, Footbridge, V. E. Day, Prayer for Relief, Majestic Harbor, and Moreno.
“We lost our race at the break when [Bayern] shot out of there and ran into everyone,” said Javier Castellano, who rode Moreno. “That pretty much took us out of the game.”
Martin Garcia rode Bayern, who is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Kaleem Shah. All were recording their first wins in the Classic. Bayern earned $2.75 million from a gross purse of $5 million.
Baffert and Garcia performed verbal limbo when trying to justify the outcome.
“You can’t control the start,” Baffert opined. Baffert added that he thought Toast of New York “did more crushing than we did,” and said he thought the stewards were looking at the Toast of New York incident more than the start.
Garcia said Bayern “broke really sharp,” and said “there was nothing he could do.” He did appear to grab Bayern as quickly as he could, but the damage to the others was done by then.
“I was pretty sure that I didn’t do anything,” Garcia said. “In racing, these things happen.”
The win was the sixth in 10 starts this year for Bayern, who did not race at 2. This year, he also won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, the Pennsylvania Derby, and the Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park. He was well beaten in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in his only previous try at 1 1/4 miles.
In this race, the Haskell, and the Pennsylvania Derby, Bayern led from start to finish.
Bayern’s best weapon is his speed. His biggest wins have come in front-running fashion. “You’ve got to flaunt your speed,” Baffert said. “His brilliance is his weapon.”
He did display gameness to hold off Toast of New York and California Chrome.
“He wouldn’t let them by,” Garcia said.
And neither would the stewards.
- January 21, 2020
The Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international events, today announced that tickets for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championship will go on sale to the public on March 9 at 9:00 a.m. EST.
- January 16, 2020
Although the California Cup/Sunshine Millions at Santa Anita Park is run in January, it can often end up having Breeders’ Cup implications at the end of the year. The five-race series for state-breds will take place January 18, with names like The Hunted, Baja Sur, and Been Studying Her scheduled to compete.
- January 16, 2020
The first major racecard at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana for 2020 takes place this Saturday, January 18. The 13-race program is highlighted by six stakes, including the $200,000 LeComte Stakes worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. The race will be live on TVG.