BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC WINNER BAYERN RETIRED
Bayern’s racing career got off to a slow start, peaked at just the right time and is now over. The winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic has been retired following a third place finish in last weekend’s Grade 1 Awesome Again (formerly known as the Goodwood). That left Bayern winless in five starts with a ninth place finish in the Pacific Classic and a third place finish in the San Diego Handicap among his most recent races.
It was apparent from the start that trainer Bob Baffert really had a soft spot for Bayern—but at the same time it didn’t quite seem like the hall of fame trainer knew what to do with him. He was unraced as a two year old and after easily winning a couple of allowance races at Santa Anita was moved up to Kentucky Derby prep races. The problem was that he didn’t have enough qualification points to earn a spot in the Derby despite Bob Baffert’s best efforts. Bayern took third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and finished second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial the week before the ‘Run For The Roses’. Based on Bayern’s performance in the Preakness Stakes—a dismal 9th place showing—a compelling case could be made that he just wasn’t ready for this level of competition.
But just as many horse racing pundits were dismissing Bayern as a talented bust, he ‘flipped a switch’ and began to dominate the three year old division. He won four of his last five races as a three year old (the only non-win was a 10th place finish in the Travers Stakes) and all were against top level competition. Following wins in the Woody Stephens, Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby came the crowning achievement of his career—a win in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
There were hopes that Bayern would mature into a competitive older horse but it was not to be. He just didn’t look the same as a four year old turning in performances that ranged from game but just not good enough to completely overmatched. There is nothing wrong physically with Bayern but according to jockey Martin Garcia he just “didn’t want to run”. Garcia added that were Bayern the same horse that he was as a three year old he ‘would have won’ the Awesome Again.
Retirement plans for Bayern are still being finalized but no doubt include a lucrative career as a breeding stallion. Trainer Bob Baffert indicated this weekend that he should know something about Bayern’s future within the next few days. Some reports suggest that he’ll stand at stud at Kentucky’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms for the 2016 season.
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