Bayern mugged Shared Belief shortly after the start of the $5 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and got away with it, outlasting Toast of New York and California Chrome in a thrilling stretch duel Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Stewards reviewed the start of the race for several minutes before ruling that there would be no change in the order of finish. According to public address announcer Trevor Denman, officials decided the incident occurred at a point of the race that did not affect the final order of finish.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, the pacesetting Bayern scored at odds of 6-1while completing the 1 1/4-mile distance in 1:59.88.
Breaking from post 7 in the 14-horse field, Bayern broke inwardly and banged squarely into Shared Belief, directly to his inside, a couple of jumps out of the gate. The collision started a chain reaction that caused Shared Belief, in turn, to knock Moreno as the outside half of the field drifted inside as well in a ragged start.
"I was never able to get comfortable after getting hit at the break," said Shared Belief's jockey, Mike Smith. "I kept getting bounced around all the way around the turn and Moreno kept getting out and bumped through the backside. Even so, he ran a dynamite race."
Trained by Bob Baffert for owner Kaleem Shah, Bayern defeated Toast of New York by a nose, with Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner California Chrome a neck back in third in a terrific finish. Shared Belief, the 5-2 favorite, was unable to overcome his early problems and finished 3 1/2 lengths farther back in fourth, suffering his first loss in eight lifetime starts.
"When he hit the wire, I was just like…it's been so many years in the making and to finally get it done was just so great, and with my wife, Jill, here, and my son (Bode)," Baffert said after collecting his first Breeders' Cup Classic win.
"How about Toast of New York? He would not go away, and California Chrome, he showed up," Baffert added. "Shared Belief didn't get a chance to run. But, Bayern is really something."
The result certainly clouds the Horse of the Year picture. It opens up an opportunity for Untapable, the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner, or Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) victor Main Sequence, with four consecutive grade I triumphs.
An enthusiastic crowd of 61,114 was on hand on a cool Southern California autumn evening for the 31st Breeders' Cup Classic.
After clearing the field following the ragged start, Bayern outpaced Toast of New York and a slightly wide California Chrome through quarter mile fractions of :23.12, :46.44, and 1:10.22 as Cigar Street stalked along the inside. Turning for home after reaching the quarter pole in a sizzling 1:34.16, Bayern held on stubbornly to his one-length edge to deep stretch, and arrived at the wire just in time as Toast of New York and California Chrome closed in at the wire.
"It's an amazing feeling, a dream come true," said Garcia after winning the Classic for the first time. "To compete in these races, especially this day, is a big thing for everyone. In this situation, you don't take away when a horse likes to run on the lead. We let him run, and if anything happens, you make adjustments. In this race, he broke really good and I took advantage."
As for the inquiry, Garcia said, "I was pretty sure that I didn't do anything. In racing, these things happen."
Baffert said he thought the ground broke out from under Bayern at the start.
"He broke in and then Martin straightened him out," the Hall of Fame trainer said.
Carrying 122 pounds, four fewer than his older rivals, Bayern paid $14.20, $8, and $5.20. British raider Toast of New York, runner-up to Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) in his most recent start for trainer Jamie Osborne, returned $18 and $10.80 with retiring jockey Jamie Spencer aboard. The exacta was worth $249.80. California Chrome, who appeared to have every chance through the stretch while urged home by Victor Espinoza, paid $5.40 to show as the co-second choice with Tonalist.
"(Toast of New York) has run his heart out and he nearly pulled off the impossible," Osborne said after picking up a $900,000 check for second. "I'm incredibly proud of him and all the team. Yes, it hurts to come second. It would have been wonderful for Jamie (Spencer) to have pulled off a Breeders' Cup Classic on his last ride."
"The outside post definitely helped me get the position I wanted; I had a good trip," Espinoza said of California Chrome's effort. "On the backstretch I thought I had a chance to win, but I knew (Bayern) was going to be tough when he gets the lead like that. The last sixteenth (California Chrome) was digging as hard as he could, but getting just a little tired. I wish he had one more race. It was a little too much for him today."
Cigar Street followed the parade of 3-year-olds in seventh, followed by Zivo , Imperative, Footbridge, V. E. Day , Prayer for Relief , Majestic Harbor , and Moreno, who chased the pace for six furlongs and gave way.
Bayern was coming off a 5 3/4-length romp in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 20, and won the William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park July 27. The son of Offlee Wild out of the Thunder Gulch mare Alittlebitearly has won four of five races since finishing ninth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in May.
The dark bay colt, bred in Kentucky by Helen Alexander, was a $320,000 buy at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Midtlantic 2-year-olds in training sale from the Eddie Woods consignment. He is the first grade I winner for his dam, who has produced three winners in as many starters.
Earning his sixth lifetime win in 10 starts, Bayern upped his career bankroll to $4,389,968 with the winner's share of $2.75 million.