Martin Garcia and the connections of Bayern did not hide the plan heading into the $1 million Haskell Invitational, “Catch me if you can.” That is exactly how the race unfolded as Bayern broke and went right to the lead in the 1 1/8 mile test at Monmouth Park. All involved felt this was his best chance to win in a field that included Social Inclusion, Medal Count, Albano and Untapable, trying her luck against the boys.
Bayern was challenged, unsurprisingly, by Wildcat Red for much of the race but drew clear of the field en route to a 7 1/4 length victory. The favorite, Untapable, just did not have a gear around the final turn and Wildcat Red faded to third while being passed by Albano, who finished a distant second. Bayern came home in a final time of 1:47:40.
Video Courtesy of Horse Racing
As we all know, the Haskell is part of the “Win and You’re In” program making Bayern eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Classic this fall. If you check out the media outlets and the fans of thoroughbred racing you will hear about the quality of Bayern and his stature in the 3-year old division. However, let’s not rush to judgment. I wanted to step back and take a minute to see what we really have here.
First, an important note about Bayern and the manner in which he won the Haskell. If this had been a 25k Maiden Claiming race where a 4-year old accomplished the same wire to wire victory, we would be hearing how the rest of the field let them steal it on the front end and that the numbers are not reflective of the quality of horse. Rather, most would be dismissing the race as quality but nothing more than a solid race with a little bit of luck and poor judgment by other jockeys. Of course, this will depend on who you like.
But what do we make of Bayern? He did not debut until a 7 Furlong MSW on January 4th at Santa Anita Park. In that debut he crossed the line on top. He quickly stepped into Allowance competition and once again prevailed in the one mile race again at Santa Anita. His late development was an issue when he stepped into the starting gate at Oaklawn Park for the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. He managed a third place finish against Danza, the surprising winner.
Bayern was then sent to the Grade 3 Derby Trial with Rosie Napravnik aboard once again. Bayern faced a stretch duel with Embellishing Bob but crossed the line a nose in front. After review it was deemed that Bayern came out on Embellishing Bob and was disqualified to second. Bayern returned to Grade 1 competition in the Preakness finishing ninth. That result coupled with the poor showing at the Arkansas Derby led many to believe that a route was not in his future.
However, the last two races have really showed the type of quality that is Bayern. After the Preakness, Bayern returned at Belmont in the 7 Furlong Woody Stephens, a Grade 2. Bayern was an impressive victor over Social Inclusion, Coup de Grace, and Embellishing Bob in a field of 13. That brings us to the Haskell. As previously mentioned the Haskell is a 1 1/8 and should be outside of the reach of Bayern. Of course that applied if you believed the naysayers. Bayern broke up top and won a route against quality competition by over seven lengths. In fact, if you listen to Martin Garcia he knew he had plenty of horse.
“That was real impressive,” the jockey said. “Obviously, we were going to the lead. I wasn’t surprised at how well he ran. He was cruising out there the whole way. He was able to set the fractions on his terms, and when we turned for home, he took off.
“Going into the race I wasn’t worried about the filly or anyone. I knew I was on a really good horse. He showed how good he was today.”
In his career, Bayern is 4-for-7 lifetime with a 4-1-1 mark earning over $1 million. His winning percentage is 57 percent and his top-3 percentage is an impressive 86 percent. He appears to be growing into himself. His last two wins are at 7 Furlongs and a 1 1/8 against grade competition. Those races should disprove anyone that believes he cannot get the distance. How do the raw numbers of Bayern stack up against other “top” 3-year old competition?
|California Chrome||6||5||0||0||$3, 317,800||83||83|
|Vicar's in Trouble||5||2||0||2||785000||40||80|
Graded Stakes Races
|California Chrome||5||4||0||0||$3, 317,800||80||80|
|Vicar's in Trouble||5||2||0||2||785000||40||80|
Clearly Bayern belongs with this group as a serious contender for 3-year old horse of the Year. While he has the most starts at seven, a tie with Wildcat Red, he did not race as a 2-year old. He appears to be filling out and improving with every race. He stride has lengthened and his resolute appears stronger. A pairing with Martin Garcia is fitting since Garcia is a jockey who will not force the horse to change plans. Bayern wants to run, he likes to be chased and he likes to win. When he enters a gate it is a simple plan that can be summed up in one word, Go.
So is Bayern on the short list? I do not see how he can be off of it with his Haskell victory. There will be a battle over the coming months leading up to November 1st. Bayern is expected to make his next start in the Grade 1 Travers along with many on this list. That race will go a long way in determining the favorite. Right now, in my mind, it is a battle of four horses including Bayern, California Chrome, Mr. Speaker, and Tonalist. Don’t let his front running style fool you, Bayern is for real!