Bayern went wire to wire to beat out an elite field featuring Triple Crown contenders to win Sunday's 2014 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.
Jockey Martin Garcia helped Bayern overcome a disappointing Preakness Stakes trip, where he finished ninth out of 10 horses.
A solid effort from Albano allowed him to finish second, while Wildcat Red placed third to get in the money.
Here is a look at the final results from this Breeders' Cup Challenge Series showcase, courtesy of Equibase.com:
|2014 Haskell Invitational Results|
|1||Bayern||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||2|
|2||Albano||Kerwin Clark||Larry Jones||3|
|3||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||8|
|4||Irish You Well||Jose Lezcano||Wayne Catalano||4|
|5||Untapable||Rosie Napravnik||Steve Asmussen||7|
|6||Just Call Kenny||Joe Bravo||Pat McBurney||5|
|7||Social Inclusion||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Manuel Azpurua||6|
|8||Encryption||Paco Lopez||Kelly Breen||1|
|9||Medal Count||Robbie Albarado||Dave Romans||9|
Untapable was heavily hyped as the even-money favorite, and with a female jockey in Rosie Napravnik in the irons, there was some added anticipation to see how the filly would do. Unfortunately for the horse who won her previous four starts by a combined 31 lengths this season, she finished fifth.
A lot of speed was to be expected with nine horses running on the dirt track at Monmouth Park in Long Branch, New Jersey. Bayern shot out of the gates from the No. 2 post, and fellow Triple Crown entrants in Wildcat Red and Social Inclusion were the top three through the first half of the race.
Lane Gold of ESPN Insider felt Bayern finally capitalized on his potential:
At no point over the span of nine furlongs did anyone have a chance to catch Bayern, as he put even more distance between himself down the final stretch.
Trainer Steve Asmussen was no stranger to having a filly win the Haskell, winning with Rachel Alexandra in 2009. NBC Sports PR noted how well the horses to beat have fared in recent years—another historical indicator that Untapable may be in line to win:
However, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trained Bayern extremely well. The strategy to get off to a fast start was an excellent one. Baffert notched his seventh win in the Haskell Invitational, reemphasizing his uncanny dominance in this prestigious race, per Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union:
Jennie Rees of The Courier Journal offered her analysis:
According to Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form, Baffert considered not even running his winner in the Haskell Invitational:
Below is the payouts for the top three finishers:
|2014 Haskell Invitational Payouts|
|Source: NBC Broadcast|
*$2 Exacta (2-3) paid $97.00; $1 Trifecta (2-3-8) paid $432.90; $1 Superfecta (2-3-8-4) paid $3,521.50.
Baffert discussed how much the Haskell Invitational means to him before the race.
"The Haskell is basically an addition to the (Triple Crown) classics," said Baffert, per BloodHorse.com's Claire Novak. "It's so important, and it's very exciting. I really enjoy when I have a horse that's good enough to run in the Haskell."
Indeed, Bayern was good enough to compete. Even more, he was clearly the best horse at Monmouth Park, and even the best effort from Untapable likely wouldn't have been able to overcome him.
Now Bayern has secured a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic, which will feature a field of reminiscent quality. Although that doesn't occur until the fall, Bayern and his connections can enjoy this landmark victory and take the necessary steps to prepare and contend at Santa Anita Park.
If it's any consolation to those who finished near the top, there was not much to be done about Bayern's dominant jaunt. They can still move forward for the rest of their three-year-old seasons with some confidence and attempt to break into the Breeders' Cup Classic through other means.
The next marquee race up in the Challenge Series is the Whitney Invitational Handicap in New York, which starts Saturday.