Let me begin this article by saying that I was completely
wrong about the outcome of this year’s Haskell. I did not think that the Bayern was capable of getting the mile and an
eighth distance of the Monmouth Park headline event.
Granted, I was very impressed with his performance in the
seven furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7th, but I,
like others, assumed that the cut back in distance was critical to Bayern’s
dazzling New York win and 107 Beyer Speed Figure.
That Belmont victory did not erase from my mind the way
that the Bob Baffert trainee had struggled when going two turns in the Arkansas
Derby, the Derby Trial, and the Preakness. At Oaklawn Park Bayern led the race
after going three-quarters in 1:12.39 but ended up finishing third beaten two
lengths. Two weeks later at Churchill Downs, Bayern again led after six
furlongs that went in 1:11.19. He was ahead when the horses crossed the wire, but
a very tired Bayern was bearing out in the stretch and ended up being disqualified
to second for floating Embellishing Bob out wide. In the Preakness he was never in contention.
As we all know Bayern followed his great performance in the
Woody Stephens with an even better race in the Haskell. His 1:47.82 time, the
seven length win in gate to wire fashion, coupled with another 107 BSF gave
Bayern one of the year’s most eye-catching victories.
Thus, we are left with what I will call the Bayern Question.
The Bayern Question is a rather complex query that racing fans and handicappers
will have to grapple with as the Travers approaches.
What kind of performance does Bayern have in store for
racing fans in the mile and a quarter Travers? Can he parcel out his speed for
another furlong over the Saratoga Race Course? Whose 2013 Midsummer Derby
performance will Bayern’s resemble more:
Moreno or Verrazano?
As we know last year the speedy front-runner Moreno made a valiant effort in the
Travers by setting the pace, battling with Orb first and then with Will Take
Charge, eventually falling to the D. Wayne Lukas charge by a very narrow margin
of a nose. Thus, the Bayern Question: Can
the California colt parcel out his speed and have a legitimate shot to win the
Travers in the same way that Moreno battled to the wire?
out of the 2013 Haskell with an extremely impressive nine-length victory, but
he could not come close to duplicating that effort in the Travers.
Historically, Haskell winners have not faired very well in the 10-furlong
Saratoga derby. In the past 10 years the Haskell winners Coil, Bluegrass Cat,
Roman Ruler, and Lion Heart also failed to win the Travers. Amongst them Lion
Heart tried to win the Travers on the front end as he had done a few weeks
earlier at Monmouth Park. Again we need to ask the Bayern Question, will the
Kaleem Shah runner join the list of recent runners who could not duplicate
their New Jersey effort?
When the Travers field is finalized we will have better
information at hand to try and answer the Bayern Question, but ultimately we
have to wait until the horses load into the Saratoga starting gate on Saturday,
August 23rd. At that point it will be up to Bayern to answer all of