DARRS Inc's Bye Bye Bernie may have given an indication of what was coming when he just missed, by a neck, in the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash Stakes Sept. 14 at odds of 55-1, because jockey Rafael Hernandez returned to ride him Oct. 18 in the $300,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT).
Things were different this time around as Bye Bye Bernie and Hernandez emerged victorious in the Woodbine fixture. The 5-year-old Bernstein gelding was 22-1.
"After the last race at Kentucky Downs, I said, 'I want to ride back,' and (trainer Brendan Walsh) let me do it," Hernandez said. "The horse ran his race."
Bye Bye Bernie settled in on the rail on the turn of the six-furlong turf test, a few lengths off dueling leaders Spring to the Sky and Excaper through a quarter-mile in :22.49 and a half in :45.29. Both frontrunners retreated in the stretch as Bye Bye Bernie angled out, rallied, and then outlasted a group of hard-driving closers to the wire to finish the six furlongs in 1:09.00 on good turf.
Four horses were within a length of the winner at the finish and the final winning margin was a head, with Summation Time checking in second and The Great War third, a nose back. Favored Cyclogenisis, off at 5-2, broke slowly and never improved from last in the field of 10.
"The key to him is the trip," Walsh said. "Your typical American races—five or 5 1/2 (furlongs) is a little short and the mile stretches him out—so we ran him 6 1/2 (furlongs) at Kentucky Downs and he ran great, and the six here is probably the minimum to get his optimal performance. He got it today."
It was the first stakes win for Bye Bye Bernie and his fifth in 25 starts. He was a $62,500 claim in April at Gulfstream Park.
"(We) bought him down in Florida and he has worked out good," Walsh said. "He's just a nice horse and everybody at home has worked hard to get the horse right and get him going in the right direction. It paid dividends today."
The winner paid $46.10, $17.50, and $8.30 across the board. Summation Time brought $7.80 and $4.90, and the Great War delivered $4.50 to show.
Passion for Action closed to finish fourth, only three-quarter lengths behind the winner, followed by Terror, Sweet Luca, Excaper, Spring to the Sky, Crysta's Court, and Cyclogenisis, to complete the order of finish. Sylven Park was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by K & G Stables out of the Gilded Time mare Eternal Grace, Bye Bye Bernie now has $347,403 in earnings.