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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Racing At The Jersey Shore

Bayern Cruises to a Haskell Victory

In a powerful wire to wire performance, Bayern, in just his seventh start, won the Haskell (G1) by 7¼ lengths, giving trainer Bob Baffert victory number seven in the Jersey Shore Invitational.

In the days leading up to the race all of the discussion was about how the other eight runners were going to deal with the front running speed of Bayern.  Baffert had made it very clear that jockey Martin Garcia would be sending the son of Offlee Wild to the lead in the Haskell, “… his only chance is to be up front.”
The horses that liked to come from behind were hoping for a very fast and contentious early pace. The connections of the other frontrunners were all saying that they would rate behind Bayern with the assumption that he would not be able to carry his speed over the mile and an eighth distance of the Haskell.
That is exactly how the race started out, but it sure wasn’t how the race ended. Bayern got loose on the lead and he set a very steady pace of :23-2, :47-3, 1:11, and 1:35-2. Without another horse to put pressure on Bayern he reached the top of the stretch three lengths ahead. As the others attempted to make their move, Bayern made his move and spurted away to win by over seven lengths in the final time of 1:47-4.

Garcia described the wire to wire victory, “That was real impressive.  Obviously, we were going to the lead, there was no plan B.  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 just how good he was today.”

Baffert continued his domination of the signature Monmouth Park event with this being his seventh win in the Haskell.  Those victories came in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, and now 2014.

Talking from California, Baffert said, “It’s so exciting.  I was hoping he’d be able to get a mile and an eighth.  Gary Stevens after he rode him last time said ‘you have to let him route again.  He’ll just keep going.’  We tried to slow him down in the past but now we know we just have to utilize his speed.  I didn’t think he’d do it as devastating as that.  It looks like he has it all together now.  He’s slowly maturing.  The older he gets, the better he gets.  His last race was incredible.  He came back and we gave him a little refresher.  Before this I said we were going to the King’s Bishop, but I don’t think I’ll back him up after this.  The only concern with the post was he needed to break.  With this horse, there’s no Plan B.  We knew the break was very important.  I’m so happy for [owner] Kaleem Shah.  He has such a passion for racing.  He wanted to get involved with horses at this level and now he has one.”

In the end Bayern paid $11.40, $7.20 and $5 across the board as the wagering second choice. Albano finished second with Wildcat Red in third.  The filly Untapable, sent off as the 1.40-1 favorite, could only finish fifth. Her trainer Steve Asmussen explained, “She didn’t get away well at all and was never in position to win the race the way the track was playing today.”

Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

The Haskell drew a crowd of 35,983 and the mutuel handle hit $15,952,611 for the day, third highest Haskell Day total in history, and $3.4 million above last year. 


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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.


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