| USA TODAY Sports
ARCADIA, Calif .– Bob Baffert’s Bad Breeders’ Cup Week ended on an all-out climax when Bayern were ahead in the $ 5 million classic Toast of New York and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome again came third lay.
But it didn’t have to stay that way. The Bavarians hadn’t even stopped after America’s richest horse race when the flashing lights on the toteboard flashed, signaling a request from the stewards.
While it was indeed a dramatic three-in-hand car, it was the very chaotic beginning that the outcome seemed to depend on. But in a decision that will be much questioned, the Santa Anita stewards did not change the order of the finish lines and gave Baffert his first victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“This has been waiting so long,” said Baffert, an eleven-time Breeders’ Cup winner. “I said, ‘Please Lord, you can’t take it away from me now.’ I don’t think I breathed the last 20 meters. “
Shared Belief, last year’s undefeated 2-year-old champion and 5: 2 favorite in the capacity field of the 14ers, was another 3 1/2 lengths behind in fourth place ahead of the announced 61,114 spectators.
In a statement, the commissioners said that after speaking with the patrol judges and riders, “it was our unanimous decision … that the incident occurred during a part of the race where the horses were unable to place them where they would were reasonably expected ”. break up.”
Baffert’s week began with the American Pharaoh, a strong favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, being scratched with an assumed foot problem. He was excluded from the Breeders’ Cup, but finished second in the sprint with the defending champion Secret Circle. Then came the final of the two-day breeder’s cup with 13 races, which was supposed to bring the best 3-year-old and older horses together in one definitive race.
“It’s very rare that you’re all in goal for something like this,” said Baffert. “That was it. Something has to get out of hand and that happens. When things get out of hand, some of us are not happy.
Here’s what shook: Bayern turned left out of goal from their # 7 post and slammed into the previously undefeated Shared Belief that slammed into Moreno while VE Day was squeezed back. In addition, Toast of New York came across decidedly at the start and seemed to pin Moreno down a second time.
“The ground is broken (under him), my horse broke really sharply,” said jockey Martin Garcia about Bayern’s start. “I couldn’t do anything. I corrected it immediately.”
Baffert blamed Toast of New York, horse number 9, for the hand-to-hand combat, claiming the Bavarians had quickly cleared the field.
“I think the 9th horse probably passed and did more damage 100 meters from the gate,” he said. “It’s racing; it’s racing luck. We were completely eliminated in preakness. You can’t control the start.”
Nevertheless, Shared Belief and the eventual finisher Moreno, a speed horse expected to be eliminated with Bayern, appeared to have been taken out of their best games.
Shared Belief jockey Mike Smith said the tricky start cost me the race.
“I never got comfortable after getting hit in the brake,” he said, “I got bounced around the corner and Moreno kept getting out and ramming his butt. Still, he ran dynamite races.”
Bayern remained alone in the lead due to quick breaks – but his game is gushing forward, nobody challenges him.
Still, he couldn’t quite shake Britain’s Toast of New York. Bayern looked defeated only to struggle inward to keep his nose in front of the wire as he finished 1 1/4 miles in 1: 59.88. He paid $ 14.20 to win.
“He’s torn his heart out and done almost the impossible,” said Jamie Osborne, coach of the Jamie Spencer-ridden Toast of New York.
California Chrome has consistently had a clean ride, as opposed to finishing fourth at the Belmont, which ended its Triple Crown offering, or his sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby after a three-month hiatus. California Chrome, in a perfect punch position right next to the leaders, was outside but could not make up the last few meters.
“I thought I had a chance to win but I knew it would be difficult (Bayern) if he took the lead like this,” said jockey Victor Espinoza. “For the last sixteenth he dug as hard as he could, but he just got a little tired.”
Three-year-olds finished in the top six, Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist finished fifth, and Candy Boy finished sixth.
Bayern didn’t run 2 last year but he’s now 6-1-1 in 10 starts, earning $ 4,389,680 on the $ 2.75 million paycheck for owner Kaleem Shah. With wins in the $ 1 million Haskell, the $ 1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the Classic, he and the 3-year-old champion nominated the horse of the year.
Nevertheless, there will be Eclipse Award voters who see this as a bad decision by the stewards and may not want to give Bayern the highest honor in the sport. So the question is who is the horse of the year?
Rees writes for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. Follow her on Twitter @CJ_Jennie
Saturday at the breeder’s cup