In a race that could have Derby implications, Bob Baffert's Bayern, ridden by Gary Stevens, stretched out to a mile and dominated Thursday's $58,000 Taurus Purse, an allowance for 3-year-olds, winning by 15 lengths while getting the distance in 1:35.77—and was then ridden out past the wire another sixteenth of a mile.
A first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs on Jan. 4, Bayern was the heavy 3-5 favorite in a field of five and paid $3.20, $2.10 and $2.10.
Breaking sharply from the rail, Bayern went to the front and was kept off the rail by Stevens, who had to contend with longshot Brother Soldier, who broke slowly and rushed up to engage the winner around the Club House turn and into the backstretch.
With Brother Soldier very keen to his outside, Stevens eased back to second approaching the five furlong pole, but turned his horse loose going to the half and he had a five length advantage on Brother Soldier and Edwin Maldonado passing the quarter pole.
“I don't think I was quite test driving him but when I did ask him to pick it up at the eighth pole, he exploded,” said Stevens. “I didn't want to get into a speed duel and taking the blinkers off was a big help today. He was listening to what I did and was relaxed down the backside and he was relaxed throughout.”
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Bayern a Kentucky-bred colt by Offlee Wild, picked up $34,800 for the win, increasing his earnings to $68,400.
“This is what you want to see and it gets your hopes up,” said Baffert. “I would just make sure he comes out of it and give him plenty of time. He ran fast.”
Baffert also saddled second choice Tap It Rich, who was off at 6-5 and finished second, 5 ¾ lengths in front of Brother Soldier. Tap It Rich, a handful with Mike Smith, sat a close third early and paid $2.40 and $2.10.
Brother Soldier, off at 9-1, paid $2.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 24.03, 47.77, 1:11.77 and 1:23.59.
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