Bayern Dazzles in the Pennsylvania Derby

Bayern Dazzles in the Pennsylvania Derby
Photo: Joan Fairman Kanes/Eclipse Sportswire

After yet another cross-country airplane ride, Bayern showed the racing fans in the east that his front-running style is very hard to beat. The Bob Baffert trainee immediately went to the lead on a Parx racing surface that had been kind to speed horses all day long. Bayern stayed right there in front for the entire track record breaking nine furlongs as the $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby became the fifth win of his career.

California Chrome was made the .90-1 betting favorite in his first race back after finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes and Bayern was the 7-2 second choice.

As soon as the starting gate opened everything went perfectly for Bayern. Jockey Martin Garcia was able to set an easy uncontested pace with moderate early fractions of :24.07, :47.89, and 1:10.88. Garcia described the trip, “Everybody knows that this horse is a really good horse and that he likes to be on the lead and that’s how the race came out. He broke really sharp and he took me to the lead. I went an easy pace and when I asked him to go, he took off.”

On the other hand, the race did not play out very well for the fan favorite California Chrome. After breaking well from the one post-position, Chrome was bottled up on the rail while running in third. Jockey Victor Espinoza knew that the race was not playing well for his horse, "The other riders, they worried about me, they didn't worry about the one in the front [winner Bayern], and I knew I was in troubled in the first turn. They were like blocking in front of me, and it was hard to catch the other horse. Sometimes the other ones don't ride to win, they ride to beat horses. But, I really didn't abuse him too much today. I just let him run his race. I didn't want to override him. He had a long time off. This race, it set it up for the next one.”

California Chrome ended up finishing sixth in the field of eight. Espinoza added, "I was really desperate and behind, but there was nothing I could do at that point. I mean, to see those fractions, and they're walking, and I knew I was in trouble as soon as I hit the first turn. Sometimes, it's out of my hands, and we'll go for the next one."

A month earlier Bayern had finished a very badly beaten tenth in the Travers. Owner Kaleem Shah talked about the decision to run in the Pennsylvania Derby, “The choice was basically the way he worked. Coming to this race, the two works he put in were sensational. The Travers was a head-scratcher. Bob [trainer Baffert] said he did not like the track. Today he showed what he can do.”

Bayern upped his career record to 9: 5-1-1 with earnings of $1,639,680. Three of those wins were in graded stakes races in the eastern part of the country. Each of those victories involved a round trip cross-country plane flight.

Baffert Assistant Trainer Jimmy Barnes tooked about his frequent flyer, “It takes a well-mannered horse. He has a very good mind on him. He handles shipping very well. That really helps. You don’t want a nervous horse when you are shipping back and forth across the country. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all.”

Once Barnes and Bayern arrived at Parx everything went their way, “The first day he went to the track, Wednesday, I just loved the way he went over the track. He went over this track so good, it was just incredible. He ran the way I expected him to run.”

In the end, Bayern’s margin of victory was 5¾ lengths over Tapiture and Candy Boy and the final time of 1:46.96 for the track record. Bayern paid $9.00, $3.60, and $4.00. The show price was due to California Chrome finishing out of the money. The all-source handle at Parx was $10,396,671, which was a remarkable 88% increase over the track’s previous high. 


Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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