07/27/2014 5:09PM

Bayern gives Baffert seventh Haskell victory

Tom Keyser
Bayern and Martin Garcia go wire to wire in the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell on Sunday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - The Grade 1 Haskell did not exactly play out on the track as expected, but the results were certainly familiar as Bayern gave Bob Baffert a record-extending seventh win in the $1 million race.

On a warm, humid New Jersey summer afternoon, Bayern shot to the lead in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell before a crowd of 35,983, but surprisingly none of the other speed horses went with him. Wildcat Red was content to track in second, with Social Inclusion to his outside.

Unchallenged for command, Bayern, with Martin Garcia aboard, clicked off pedestrian fractions of 23.54, 47.66, and 1:11.16 over a track that later in the day seemed to be playing to speed. He readily pulled away in the stretch, geting a mile in 1:35.49 with a three-length advantage. He stopped the timer in 1:47.82 with his nearest rival 7 1/4 lengths back. He paid $11.40 as the second betting choice in the nine-horse field.

"I was pretty confident he could go the distance," said Garcia, who was winning his third Haskell, all for Baffert. "I went to the lead and tried to slow my horse down. Today he showed he could do anything."

All of the horses were on their best behavior in the paddock, but Social Inclusion, in post 6, became fractious once loaded in the gate. The 7-5 favorite, the filly Untapable, was right next to him in post 7. When the gates opened, Social Inclusion stumbled and Untapable broke inward bumping with him.

Untapable and jockey Rosie Napravnik were fanned at least four wide into the clubhouse turn. Untapable lacked the need closing kick when asked while still wide on the far turn and finished fifth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths for second.

"We didn't get away from there well," trainer Steve Asmussen said after the race. "It just didn't go our way."

After the race, Napravnik said, "The horse acted up in the stall next to us and we just didn't get away well, and then we were widest of all into the turn. This is the hardest I've ever asked her."

Albano, who was only a few lengths off the early pace while saving ground, finished willingly and was up to gain the place over Wildcat Red by one length. Wildcat Red held the show by three-quarters of a length over Irish You Well, who finished a head in front of Untapable. Social Inclusion, racing without Lasix today, faded to seventh.

At the post-race press conference, Bob Baffert said by telephone from California that he was unlikely to shorten Bayern up in distance for the seven-furlong King's Bishop as originally planned. Baffert said he would consider his options and speak with Bayern's owner, Kaleem Shah, before making any plans.

Bayern came into the Haskell off a 7 1/2-length win in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day. The Haskell was a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Classic this fall at Santa Anita and Bayern earned a fees-paid berth into the race

"This horse has shown signs of brilliance but maybe I rushed him a bit trying to make the Arkansas Derby in the spring," Baffert said. "We tried to slow him down in the past, but now we know we have to utilize his speed. He handled that pretty well today and the older he gets, the better he gets."

Baffert has won the Haskell seven times since 2001. Three trainers are tied for second, with three Haskell wins each: Todd Pletcher, and the late trainers Sonny Hine and Jimmy Croll.

*Total handle on the day was $15,952,611, the third-highest ever for a Haskell Day card and $3.4 million more than was bet last year.