The fallout from Bayern’s controversial victory in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park continued to come down Sunday, with the stewards explaining their decision why they unanimously decided not to disqualify the Bob Baffert trainee after he broke inward to the left out of post No. 7, slamming into champion and race favorite Shared Belief at the start.
In a press conference Sunday, steward Scott Chaney said that while all three stewards agreed there was significant contact at the start, they ruled it did not cost the horse or horses interfered with a better placing at that specific point in the race.
“We actually got an all clear from our quick official who is our guy on the track,” Chaney explained. “No riders objected so we went back, looked at the start and saw the incident. We put up the inquiry sign and conducted our normal inquiry into such things.
“These are governed by specific CHRB rules. So you have to determine No. 1, was there interference which we did. And then we had to determine most specifically if it happened at a point in the race, which is the start, where it cost No. 6 Shared Belief and/or No. 4 Moreno the opportunity at a better placing. We voted unanimously it didn’t happen at a point in the race where it was reasonable to speculate that they didn’t finish in a position they would be reasonably expected to finish. That’s the language of the rule.”
Shared Belief, who was unbeaten in seven previous career starts, ended up fourth while fellow Grade I winner Moreno, whom Shard Belief bumped into after being hit by Bayern, finished last in the field of 14. Moreno, known for his early speed, was expected to press Bayern on the front end.
Chaney said the stewards talked to Mike Smith who was aboard Shared Belief and Martin Garcia who rode Bayern but did not talk to Moreno’s jockey, Javier Castellano.
“I’m sure any interference probably changes the outcome to some extent,” Chaney said. “For us, especially at the start of a 1 1/4 miles race, we are really loath to involved, No. 1 and No. 2 to speculate whether if the horse was a front runner or come from behind horse , how it kind of affected them. The fact Moreno might have pressed Bayern on the lead is not the type of speculation we want to engage in or what you want us to engage is.”
The controversy overshadowed the fact that Bayern, in edging out Toast of New York and dual classic winner California Chrome for the win, gave Baffert his first Breeders’ Cup Classic win of his Hall of Fame career and capped off a stellar 3-year-old campaign that saw the son of Offlee Wild win four graded stakes at four different tracks this season including the Grade I Haskell Invitational.
“I have never seen such animosity over a horse race,” Baffert told the Breeders’ Cup notes team on Sunday. “It seems like people forgot how to watch a race. If the stewards had not posted the inquiry, there would not have been one.
“The sad part about all this is it distracts from what (Bayern) did yesterday. It’s not like he’s a fluke. He can do it all an he’s a fighter. At the Preakness, Ria Antonia got us right out of the gate but I didn’t cry about it.”
Baffert added that Bayern as well as the rest of his Breeders’ Cup runners came out of their efforts in good order Sunday.
Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer and co-owner of Shared Belief, did not comment on the stewards’ decision but said the reigning juvenile champion “came out okay” and would return to his base at Golden Gate Fields to be freshened.
Toast of New York, who edged California Chrome for second in the Classic, was well on Sunday and likely will be pointed to the $10 million Dubai World Cup in 2015.
Trainer Art Sherman said that Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was also good but that future plans for the colt had not yet been finalized.
“It was a great race for him, a game race to get beat by a neck,” Sherman said.