Fresh from a powerful front-running, track record-setting victory in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby, Bayern thrust himself into the Breeders' Cup Classic picture as a major player, although Bob Baffert didn't rule out other options for the son of Offlee Wild owned by Kaleem Shah.
“He could run in three races,” the Hall of Fame trainer said: “the Sprint, the (Dirt) Mile or the Classic. That's how versatile he is. That's how good he is. He's a pretty good horse if he can do all that, right? All the great ones can do that, though.”
Bayern (pronounced BY-earn) has won at distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Of his five victories from nine starts, his combined margin of victory is just under 40 lengths, an average of nearly eight lengths per triumph.
Sean McCarthy, who had planned to run Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Majestic Harbor in the Classic off his sixth-place finish in the Pacific Classic, said Tuesday morning the son of the late Rockport Harbor would run in the Awesome Again.
“There's just no reason not to run him,” the trainer said. “There's no reason to be sitting around waiting two months in between races and working and working and working when you can go ahead and race, so that's what we're doing.”
California Chrome, meanwhile, was none the worse for wear following his disappointing sixth-place finish in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby behind Bayern, who was ridden and rated perfectly by Martin Garcia.
“He came back fine,” trainer Art Sherman said from his Los Alamitos headquarters. “He looks good. He didn't have the greatest trip in the world, but we'll live to fight another day.”
That would be in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
“I was blocked a little bit,” said California Chrome's regular rider, Victor Espinoza, at Clockers' Corner Tuesday morning. “They slowed down pretty good on the first turn (going the first quarter in a leisurely 24 seconds). That kind of hurt me right there.
“It was a little stressful for me because I wanted to let him go, but I had nowhere to go and no room to go. Nevertheless, he ran a good race, and for his being away for such a long time (since June 7, when the Kentucky Derby winner dead-heated for fourth in the Belmont Stakes), things like that will happen.
“Now he has a month before his next race. I think he'll be 100 percent.”
The next race for Candy Boy, third in the Pennsylvania Derby, is on hold. “No plans,” trainer John Sadler said Tuesday morning. “He came back fine Sunday, but no plans yet.”
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