Plenty of Options for Bayern after Haskell Win

Welcome to the first edition of my blog Keeping Pace. I’ll largely be focused on the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series through the fall.

If you guessed that the first three Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In,” qualifiers to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) would be Moonshine Mullin, Majestic Harbor, and Bayern--and found someone to book that action--I hope you’re enjoying your Caribbean vacation.

Bayern became the latest horse to punch his Classic ticket when he rolled to a front-running score in the William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) July 27 at Monmouth Park, drawing off in the stretch to post a 7 ¼-length victory. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert suddenly finds his Breeders’ Cup options for Bayern ranging from the six-furlong Sprint (gr. I), to the Dirt Mile (gr. I), to accepting the automatic bid to the 1 ¼-mile Classic.


Haskell winner Bayern - Photo by Chad B. Harmon

Baffert had been considering sprints for the son of Offlee Wild after his 7 ½-length romp in the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, but the trainer credited rider Gary Stevens with backing one more route try for Bayern. Given the opportunity, Bayern delivered in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell against other 3-year-olds.

With the back-to-back victories by a combined 14 ¾ lengths, Baffert could stretch out Bayern again in the 1 ¼-mile Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 23 at Saratoga Race Course or keep him at 1 1/8 miles in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 20 at Parx. Bayern failed to place in his only classic start, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes (gr. I), but he could not use his early speed in that race after bobbling at the start and being pinched back.

How good is Bayern going? Besides the runaway victories in the previous two efforts, consider that he has reached the wire first in three of his past four starts, all graded stakes. He was disqualified to second in the Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) April 26 at Churchill Downs.

In the Woody Stephens, Bayern was the only horse to win while on or near the lead June 7 at Belmont Park. He dueled within a head of the lead at first call and then added to his advantage to the wire. In the other eight dirt races conducted on that Belmont Stakes day card, the average first-call race position of the winner was 5.5 and they were 4.8 lengths off the lead. In other words, that track was not playing to speed.

Haskell day at Monmouth was a more speed-favoring surface with three gate-to-wire winners, and three other winners who raced second, while within a length of the lead, in the card's nine dirt races.

If Baffert determines Bayern is up to the challenge of facing older horses going 1 ¼ miles in the Classic, at the very least Bayern would add a significant pace presence. Baffert of course also trains early-running, multiple grade I winner Game On Dude. Perhaps one of the two would be sent to the Dirt Mile. Baffert has some time. Race outcomes in the coming months likely will clarify the decision.

Bayern is Baffert’s seventh Haskell winner but none of the previous six winners went on to win a Breeders’ Cup race. The top Classic effort registered by any of the six was Lookin At Lucky, who wrapped up a second divisional championship with a fourth-place finish.

Bayern’s Haskell victory came at the expense of 7-5 favorite Untapable, who finished fifth in her efforts to defeat males and become just the third filly to win the Haskell. To me, the two-time grade I winner didn’t look great in the post parade. She then had a rough start when she broke inward and bumped with Social Inclusion, who looked washed out in the post parade and acted up in the gate. Untapable then raced wide in the first turn. In short, it wasn’t her day.

The 3-year-old filly who did make headlines by beating the boys over the weekend was Investec Epsom Oaks (gr. I) winner Taghrooda, who defeated older males in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO (gr. I) July 26 at Ascot. She is just the second horse to win those two races in the same year.

As a Breeders' Cup Challenge race, the victory punches Taghrooda’s ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), but she may be unlikely to make the trip. After the race, trainer John Gosden, a four-time Breeders' Cup winner, mentioned the Oct. 5 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) as a target.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner-up Telescope will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. His connections believe the 4-year-old Galileo colt will enjoy the firm turf at Santa Anita.

One of the telling details about this year’s Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) on July 27, which for the final time was contested on Polytrack as Del Mar will return to dirt next season, is that the race is a “Win and You’re In,” for the Turf Sprint (gr. IT). Winner Big Macher, who picked up his first grade I win, appears more likely for the Sprint as the 4-year-old Beau Genius gelding entered off a victory in the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) on the dirt at Santa Anita. Sadly, Beau Genius died July 25.

Upcoming Challenge races

After 3-year-olds had a “Win and You’re In” shot last weekend in the Haskell, older horses will get the chance to punch their Classic ticket this weekend as the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) winner Palace Malice figures to be the Whitney favorite. Among the others likely to be entered are Will Take Charge, Itsmyluckyday, Departing, Moreno, and Golden Ticket.

At Del Mar, a Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) bid will be on the line in the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. I), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the Polytrack.

Breeders’ Cup Challenge on television

For the second straight weekend, racing will get network exposure as NBC plans to broadcast the Whitney Handicap Aug. 2. from Saratoga. The program will begin at 5 p.m. and also will feature coverage of the Test Stakes (gr. I) from Saratoga for 3-year-old filly sprinters.

 

Automatic bids earned through challenge wins

Classic

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bayern (KY), by Offlee Wild, William Hill Haskell Invitational S. (gr. I), Monmouth Park

Majestic Harbor (KY), by Rockport Harbor, The Gold Cup at Santa Anita S. (gr. I), Santa Anita Park

Moonshine Mullin (KY), by Albert the Great, Stephen Foster H. (gr. I), Churchill Downs

Dirt Mile

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bronzo (CHI), by Fusaichi Pegasus, Copa de Oro Vinas de Chile (Chi-II), Club Hipico de Santiago
Palace Malice (KY), by Curlin, Metropolitan H., Belmont Park

Distaff

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Close Hatches (KY), by First Defence, Ogden Phipps S. (gr. I), Belmont Park

Valiant Emilia (PER), by Pegasus Wind, Clasico Cesar del Rio Suito (Per-III), Hipodromo de Monterrico

Filly & Mare Turf

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Beach Beauty (SAF), by Dynasty, Maine Chance Farms Paddock S. (SAf-I), Kenilworth

Minorette (KY), by Smart Strike, Belmont Oaks Invitational S. (gr. IT), Belmont Park

Mile

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Capetown Noir (SAF), by Western Winter, L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-I), Kenilworth

Obviously (IRE), by Choisir, Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT), Santa Anita Park

Sacred Falls (NZ), by O’Reilly, The Star Doncaster Mile (Aus-I), Kenilworth

Turf

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Bal a Bali (BRZ), by Put It Back, Gran Premio Brasil (Brz-I), Hipodromo da Gavea

Gold Ship (JPN), by Stay Gold, Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I), Hanshin Racecourse

It’s a Dundeel (NZ), by High Chaparral, Longines Queen Elizabeth S. (Aus-I), Randwick

Main Sequence (KY), by Aldebaran, United Nations Stakes (gr. IT), Monmouth Park

Sir Winsalot (ARG), by Lasting Approval, Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (Arg-I), San Isidro

Taghrooda (GB), by Sea The Stars, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO (Eng-I), Ascot

Turf Sprint

Horse, Sire, Challenge race, track

Big Macher (CA), Beau Genius, Bing Crosby S. (gr. I), Del Mar

Lankan Rupee (AUS), by Redoute’s Choice, Darley T. J. Smith S. (Aus-I), Randwick

Automatic bids by state or country bred
Kentucky 7
New Zealand 2
South Africa 2
Argentina  1
Australia 1
Brazil 1
Chile  1
California 1
England 1
Ireland 1
Japan 1
Peru 1

23 Comments

Leave a Comment:

-Keelerman

Terrific thoughts, Frank Angst! I'll look forward to reading your future posts!

29 Jul 2014 6:33 PM
BelmontBarb

Yes ~ plenty of "Options" for Baffert - remember - he was the Assistant Trainer to D.Wayne some time ago - some things never change

29 Jul 2014 8:18 PM
chris miskell

Baffert never worked for Lukas. They both came out of the Quarter Horse world, but that was about it.

29 Jul 2014 9:58 PM
smarie

I hope John Goshen reconsiders and brings Tag hood a to run in the BC Turf. I would live to see her run.

29 Jul 2014 11:36 PM
Carlos in Cali

Why wasn't the inaugural Belmont Derby won by Mr. Speaker designated a "win & you're in" along with the Belmont Oaks?..

I'm pretty sure Baffert will aim his speedsters Bayern(Dirt Mile) & Game On Dude(BCC)on said schedules. No need for the stablemates to duel each other.  

30 Jul 2014 1:38 AM
English Pete

I really liked this blog. I think it's a great idea, and will be looking forward to the updates.

30 Jul 2014 6:28 AM
Trebloc

Frank,

Is the Woodward a win and your in race?  If so, why wouldn't a three year old colt run, get the weight break and face a smaller field.  Especially if you know the colt cannot get the classic distance?

Great blog!

30 Jul 2014 8:02 AM
Frank Angst

Thanks for the compliments, yes we'll try to stay on top of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. As John Gosden has supported the Breeders' Cup over the years, I would certainly think it would be, at the least, a back-up option for Taghrooda.

30 Jul 2014 8:45 AM
Pedigree Ann

Do you really believe that any of the Southern Hemisphere horses, in the primes of their careers, will skip the rich races in their home countries to ship in for the BC? Especially not the South Africans, who must spend up to six months in quarantine to enter other major racing countries. The Melbourne Cup is worth Aus$6 million and is the goal for every horse in Aus/NZ with a group win at 10f or more; the BC Turf is a non-starter.

30 Jul 2014 8:50 AM
Frank Angst

Trebloc ... The Woodward is not a Breeders' Cup Challenge race. Your thinking on the distance makes sense, if you don't think the 3yo can go a mile and a quarter. But the Pa. Derby offers a big purse and chance to face only 3yo.

30 Jul 2014 8:52 AM
Frank Angst

The Belmont Oaks was a BC Challenge race and Minorette punched her ticket to the BC Filly & Mare Turf. In general, most of the BC Challenge Races don't carry age restrictions (except for the 2yo races to come, obviously), but there are a few races selected that are restricted to 3yo.

30 Jul 2014 9:00 AM
Tommyboomer

Seems like Baffert would be in a pickle to run both Bayern and Game on Dude in the Classic.  They'd likely burn each other out. If Game on Dude fairs poorly in the Pacific Classic, I could see him move to the Dirt Mile? the owners would ultimately decide. Great column. I look forward to following it.

30 Jul 2014 9:08 AM
Rachel best 3 yr old filly ever

Bayern should be pointed to PA.Debry, then BC dirt Mile. He is super fast and must have the *Lead* type. Mile and 1/8 at this stage of his career is his limitation. I believe he wins those 2 races but no way he wins carrying that speed going a mile 1/4 against the likes of Tonalist & Wicked Strong in the Travers. In the BC no way he carries that speed against the like of Palice Malice, Shared Belief, Tonalist, Wicked Strong, Cali Chrome, Game on Dude etc. Get a BC win going a Mile Baffert.  

30 Jul 2014 1:49 PM
chris miskell

I would think now would be the time to roll the dice and go for the Travers. It would hold a great deal more weight than the PA Derby in the quest for a title. Right now, Chrome is the clear leader in the Eclipse race and it is going to take a win in the "fourth" classic race plus success (finishing ahead of CC) in the BC Classic to take the title.

30 Jul 2014 4:38 PM
Coldfacts

Rachel best 3YO Filly ever

Bayern: “He is super-fast”

The above colt is not super-fast but rather has excellent tactical speed.

Derby Trail 8F – 1:36.73 – 1st

AK Derby 9F – 1:49.68 - 3rd

Preakness – 9.5F – 1:54.84 - 9th.

Haskell – 9F 1:47.82 – 1st

The above times are no reflective of super-fast horse. The 1:20.75 he recorded in the Wood Stephens is consistent with times recorded for 7F at Belmont by graded and allowance horses.

“No way he wins carrying his speed a mile ¼ against the top 3YOs”

Oflee Wild the sire of Bayern was sired by Wild Again the winner of the inaugural running of the 10F, BCC. Oflee Wild’s dam was sire by Seattle Slew. Oflee Wild was therefore bred to run all day. The fact that he flopped in the top 3YO races including the  KD does not mean he cannot sire a 10F horse.

Bayern’s dam Alittlebitearly was sire by Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch. Her dam was sires by Alydar who needs no introduction. Bayern’s immediate family suggests he will have no problems carrying his speed 10F. He has shown that he can rate and stamina should not be a problem. His dam was unraced which is a big plus.

30 Jul 2014 9:35 PM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts - there are no guarantees in pedigrees, just probabilities. If they were, a gelding by Java Gold out of a Slew o' Gold mare would have won the Belmont instead of becoming champion sprinter Kona Gold.

31 Jul 2014 3:38 AM
Coldfacts

Pedigree Ann,

"There are no guarantees in pedigrees, just probabilities"

As usual I cannot disagree with you.

Base purely on probability, the ability Bayern has shown from day one, coupled with his pedigree, it is likely he will turn out to be a better horse than California Chrome despite his no show in the Preakness..

Do not forget he won his first two starts over 7F & 8F pulling a bus whereas CC won one of his first two starts at 4.5F.

The probability of CC being the Derby and Preakness winner was very remote based on his pedigree. There is a greater probability that Bayern will eventually emerge as the true champion of CA. This is assuming Shared Belief is not as good as he appears.

31 Jul 2014 8:14 AM
Rusty Weisner

Frank Angst,

I'm really pulling for Bayern to run in the Travers because I would like to bet against him in that spot after he got the benefit of the easy lead on a badly biased track.  I'd be especially eager since Baffert already questions his suitability for the classic distance and he'll take a lot of money because of the Beyer.

31 Jul 2014 12:24 PM
Rusty Weisner

Coldfacts,

I don't think the pedigree here is the main argument against his likelihood of going the distance -- the trainer's own reservations and earlier intentions (King's Bishop) are the better argument.

31 Jul 2014 12:25 PM
Rachel best 3 yr old filly ever

Cold Facts:

Great points on Bayern with his pedigree, but I haven't seen Bayern rate yet. He has been on the lead in all of his races that he won. In the Preakness he got bumped at the start and was thrown out of his comfortable spot on the lead. This colt reminds me alot of Game On Dude so far in his career. If he is going to win the Travers or BC Classic he must learn to take dirt in his face and rate of the pace. In the Travers he might not have pressure up front (speed duel) and can loaf around the track in a decent pace 23 or 24 1st quarter, 46 half then he can manage his speed going a mile and 1/4. Yet in the BC he will face legimate pace pressure early from Game on Dude, Moreno, Moonshine Mullins and then will have to deal with Stalkers in Palice Malice, Cali Chrome, Shared Belief,Will Take Charge, Departing and then the closer Wicked Strong ( left out others). I don't see him carrying that speed with all kinds of pressure to secure a win going a mile and 1/4 in the Classic. If he does? then he will be a special horse to beat this group of horses this year. We have a nice 3yr old group and nice handicap division going on right now.      

31 Jul 2014 3:07 PM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner,

Ghostzapper’s first 7 races were restricted to 7F and less. Bayern reminds me a lot of Ghostzapper.  Let’s do a comparison of their Belmont 7F race and their next outing over 9F at Monmouth :

Ghoistzapper:

Tom Fool (Belmont); 7F – 1st, 1:20.42

Phillip Iselin (Monmouth); 9F - 1s, 1:47.66

Bayern:

Woody Stephens (Belmont); 7F – 1st, 1:20.75

Haskell (Monmouth); 9F - 1s, 1:47.92

Ghostzapper  had no problem carrying his speed to a BCC stakes record. Bayern has more stamina in his pedigree to complement his speed..

31 Jul 2014 4:29 PM
Bill Rinker

Thanks for a nice column Frank, I too will be looking forward to your future work, looks real good to me. It was Bayern's day to shine in the Haskell and perhaps what impressed me most, was how easily and immediately he appeared to get into the comfort zone. It looked like Martine took a slight hold after entering the first turn, he responded kindly and that was it, smooth sailing while under way to sensible fractions. I'm not sure you would want to fix something that's not broken, in reference to competition playing to your strength seems like the best direction to go in. It will be interesting to see how his future unfolds, over coming unfortunate events in a race is very much a test of not only the immediate situation but also future mental prowess and most importantly confidence. They all seem to respond a little differently to oppositional events and so far he has handled things very well. Let's hope that he can stay healthy and continue to move forward, and I'm sure along the way provide us with plenty of thrilling moments.    

31 Jul 2014 10:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts - Ghostzapper was by BC Classic winner Awesome Again (sire of major 10f winners like Game on Dude, Awesome Gem, and Ginger Punch) out of a mare by Relaunch, who placed in G1 races up to 12f (on grass, of course) and sired BC Classic winner Skywalker and Cee's Tizzy, sire of Tiznow not to mention the distance-loving Waquoit and With Anticipation.

Furthermore, 'Zapper had 10f-12f G1-type winners Hawaii and Shannon II on his damline, which just happened to connect with Affirmed's at the fifth dam. So I wouldn't say that Bayern is more likely to stay than Ghostzapper was; there were plenty of staying elements in the ped.

01 Aug 2014 12:34 PM

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