By Terry Miller
There were upsets galore during a cool and stormy Breeders Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday. California Chrome took nothing home; Shared Belief (ridden by Mike Smith) was essentially knocked out of the Classic; and many other notable horses didn’t even place, let alone show.
However, the crowd at the track Saturday took it all in stride while they sipped fine champagne and showed off their finest hats.
Bayern, a three-year-old colt, won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, withstanding a final surge from Toast of New York to win by a nose. The colt likely earned Horse of the Year honors in the process, but it didn’t come without controversy.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Bayern broke inward into 5-2 favorite Shared Belief at the start, forcing that rival to check as he bumped into Moreno to his inside and was steadied between horses. The stewards immediately put up the inquiry sign after the race but ruled the interference didn’t affect the final outcome.
Jockey Mike Smith aboard Shared Belief, who sustained his first loss in eight career starts with a non-threatening fourth, was unhappy with the situation
“I was never able to get comfortable after getting hit at the break,” Smith said. “I think it cost me the race.”
The dark bay colt earned $2,750,000 for the Classic.
Mike Smith did, however, have an earlier win aboard Judy the Beauty (1st) – “Absolutely dynamite. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Almost every step of it, except for almost getting caught. She broke extremely well which at times can be very crucial for her because sometimes she gets away really bad. I was happy about that; one of the best she’s ever left the gate. We saw that work at Keeneland. We knew she was ready.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported that all of his Breeders’ Cup starters came out of their races in good order, but all of the buzz was about Bayern, who delivered Baffert his 11th Breeders’ Cup victory and his first in the Classic in 13 tries dating back to 1998.
“I have never seen so much animosity over a horse race,” Baffert said. “It seems like people forgot how to watch a race.”
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Bayern broke inward at the start starting a chain reaction that prompted a steward’s inquiry.
“If the stewards had not posted the inquiry, there would not have been one,” Baffert said. “Mike Smith (who rode Shared Belief) wasn’t going to (claim foul). He said all the trouble happened a little later when the 9 (Toast of New York) came over and by that time, my horse was already gone.”
Under Martin Garcia, Bayern led all the way to prevail by a nose over Toast of New York with California Chrome another neck back, completing the 1 1/4m in 1:59 4/5.
“The sad part about all of this is that it distracts from what he did yesterday,” Baffert said. “It’s not like he is a fluke. He can do it all and he’s a fighter. You could tell he was not going to let that other horse (Toast of New York) by.”
Saturday’s events were all part of the game to Baffert.
“You just have to have racing luck,” Baffert said. “Game On Dude never got a trip (in the past two Classics) like Bayern got yesterday. I wish he had gotten them. You are not going to win without racing luck.
“At the Preakness, Ria Antonia got us right out of the gate, but I didn’t cry about it. That’s just racing.”
The ninth-place finish in the Preakness and a 10th-place finish in the Travers are the only off-the board finishes for Bayern, who did not debut until Jan. 4 this year.
“After he won the Haskell, when he got back to Del Mar he missed five days of training and I probably shouldn’t have gone to Saratoga (Travers),” Baffert said.
“When he is right, he is poison out of the gate. He’s like a Quarter Horse. He’s brilliant; he’s so fast. He can win going six (furlongs), seven, a mile, a mile and a quarter.”
Shah was happy with the Classic victory.
“I just wish it would have come without all the controversy,” Shah said. “If he is healthy, I would like (to take a shot at) the Dubai World Cup. When Bob tells me he is ready to roll, we roll. As long as he stays healthy and sound, he’ll run at 4, 5 and 6.”
Day at the Races – Record 21st Breeders’ Cup World Championship victory for jockey Mike Smith
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