Bayern wins Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose
ARCADIA, California (AP): Bayern won the US$5 million Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose from English-trained challenger Toast of New York, surviving a stewards' inquiry prompted by multiple horses bumping near the start of Saturday's race.
Trainer Bob Baffert had to wait, along with a crowd of 61,114 at Santa Anita, to confirm that he had finally won North America's richest race after failing in 12 previous tries.
"It's been so long waiting. I was like, 'Lord, you can't take it away from me now,'" said Baffert, who has won just about every other big race in the sport, including three Kentucky Derbies. "I couldn't breathe the last 20 yards."
The two-day world championships concluded with trainer Chad Brown claiming three victories, while trainer Wesley Ward had two. European horses earned just one victory, with French-trained 30-1 shot Karakontie in the $2 million Mile.
"To be here and enjoy the week like we did and walk away with three winners is a dream come true," said Brown, who is based in New York.
The Mile surprise was one of four upsets on Saturday. The biggest came in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, with Take Charge Brandi kicking off the nine Cup races with a 61-1 upset for 79-year-old trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Jockey Mike Smith extended his record for Cup victories to 21 with a win in the Filly & Mare Sprint with Judy the Beauty - the only favourite to win Saturday.
Three of four favourites won on opening day Friday.
In the Classic, Bayern ran 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.88 and paid $14.20, $8 and $5.20 at 6-1 odds.
Toast of New York returned $18 and $10.80. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was another neck back in third and paid $5.40 to show.
Shared Belief, the 5-2 favourite co-owned by sports talk host Jim Rome, was knocked off his game at the start and finished fourth, ending his undefeated streak at seven.
Bayern's victory likely denies California Chrome champion 3-year-old honours and places him squarely in the running for Horse of the Year.