11/02/2014 4:10PM

Controversy swirls around Bayern's BC Classic victory

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Barbara D. Livingston
Bayern got a career-high 113 Beyer Speed Figure for his Breeders' Cup Classic victory.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Even with an extra hour to sleep on it on Saturday night, emotions were still raw at Santa Anita on Sunday morning regarding the controversial Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, in which Bayern prevailed and then survived a stewards’ inquiry focusing on his actions at the start.

Bayern veered left immediately out of the gate and made contact with several horses, including favored Shared Belief, who finished fourth, behind Bayern, Toast of New York, and California Chrome. There also was a second incident 150 yards into the race, when Toast of New York moved sharply left toward Shared Belief. Stewards let the result stand.

 “I don’t have anything to say,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer and co-owner of Shared Belief, who was clearly disappointed with the decision. He said Shared Belief had come out of the race well and would head back to Golden Gate Fields on Monday.

Moreno, who was involved in the chain-reaction bumping at the start, emerged from the race with a swollen right-front ankle, according to his trainer, Eric Guillot. On Monday, Guillot said X-rays revealed a chip in that ankle. He said it would be removed via surgery.

Guillot said he thought Moreno was compromised by the start.

 “You want to have a foot race, and I trip you on the way out?” Guillot said.

 Scott Chaney, one of Santa Anita’s stewards, said he and colleagues Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward all agreed that while there was interference, they could not assume it cost any of the runners the opportunity for a better placing. Therefore, based on the rule they must apply, they made no change.

 “We’re loath to speculate,” he said.

 Chaney said the stewards thought the Toast of New York incident was less significant than the start, and they focused most of their attention on Bayern. He said that because they did not believe placings were impacted, they never got to the point where they looked at where Bayern would be placed should he be disqualified.

Chaney said no riders lodged an objection. He also said there was no evidence the veering in was done purposefully by jockey Martin Garcia, who was absolved of blame after meeting with the stewards on Sunday.

The controversy regarding the Classic overshadowed the performance of Bayern, who was winning for the sixth time in 10 starts, all this year, and bravely held off Toast of New York and California Chrome – who had clean trips – to win the 1 1/4-mile race.

“That horse ran a brilliant race,” said Bayern’s trainer, Bob Baffert. “He’s so tough. He’s just getting better and better. He’s such a good horse. He’s the kind of horse I could have run yesterday in the Sprint, Mile, or Classic.

“This little horse, he’s brought it. He’s the kind of horse you want to breed. He’s durable. He’s sound. He’s solid.”

Bayern earned a career-high 113 Beyer Speed Figure for his Classic performance.

Baffert said Bayern came out of the race well. He will stay in training next year at age 4. His owner, Kaleem Shah, on Sunday morning said his early season goal for 2015 was the Dubai World Cup, which will be back on dirt.

“My hope is the Dubai World Cup, and we can work out his schedule back from that,” Shah said at Santa Anita. “Bob can watch the race on his Grade 1 couch.”

Baffert has not returned to Dubai since suffering a heart attack there 2 1/2 years ago.

Shah seemed to agonize over the result, on one hand thoroughly thrilled he had won his biggest race as an owner, on the other hand not able to fully enjoy it because of the controversy.

“From my perspective, I hate it coming down to this issue,” Shah said. “I feel bad for the connections of Shared Belief. But I do think Shared Belief had six furlongs to make up four lengths on us and he never closed any ground. And the other top contenders had their shot at getting by.

 “It was a tremendous race. Bayern wouldn’t let the other horses by, even on the gallop-out. I feel horrible at the way it unfolded. I wish there was no controversy.”