Bayeaux invades the River City.

Bayeaux invades the River City.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Bayeux Battles to River City Win in U.S. Debut

(from Churchill Downs report)
English invader Bayeux, ignored at odds of 23-1 in his American debut, unleashed a strong stretch drive to score a 1 ½-length upset victory over Lord Admiral in the $168,900 River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) on turf Friday at Churchill Downs.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Red Ransom covered the 1 1/8-mile distance for jockey John Velazquez in 1:48.77 over firm going and paid $48.80, $19.40, and $11.40. Lord Admiral, ridden by champion Irish jockey Michael Kinane, closed from last to snag second by a neck and paid $6 and $4. Ballast, piloted by Garrett Gomez, held the lead turning for home only to be passed in the final sixteenth to finish third and paid $4.

Owned by Michael Tabor and trained by Gerard Butler, Bayeux won three of nine starts on grass and synthetic surfaces this year in England. He improved his career record to 5-2-3 in 24 races and the winner's share of $100,531 increased his lifetime earnings to $229,258.

"Everything went according to plan," said Butler. "He's a horse that I bought last year for Mr. Tabor. He's done very well for us in England this year, so the plan was to come out here and have a crack at this."

"I was pleased," said Tabor. "It's a good performance, coming over from Europe for the first time. He'll stay here and should win some nice races over here."

Chief Export surged to the front out of the starting gate and led the field through modest fractions of 24.94 for the quarter mile and 49.36 for the half-mile as the Irish-bred Ballast and Bayeux settled in second and third. Gomez sent Ballast past the leader entering the far turn, while Bayeux inched closer to the leaders. Ballast opened a clear advantage as the field straightened away for the stretch run, but Velazquez took aim on the leader with Bayeux and surged to the front inside the final sixteenth of a mile. Lord Admiral, who trailed the field in the early going, swung nine wide for the stretch run to edge Ballast for the runner-up spot by a neck.

"I had to make a decision when another horse carried him three or four wide, and maybe I should have tried to come back in and save a bit of ground," said Kinane of Lord Admiral. "But he flew home, he came home good."

Victory Design (IRE) finished fourth in the River City, followed by Silver Whistle, Courtnall, Art Master, Erroneous I D, and Chief Export.

Art Master, the 19-10 favorite ridden by Edgar Prado, edged into contention on the far outside but tired in the stretch.

(Chart, Equibase)