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Bayern wins $5m Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose after surviving stewards' inquiry

This pic shows just how close a finish it was.

Breeders Cup Classic Horse Racing Source: AP/Press Association Images

BAYERN MADE TRAINER Bob Baffert’s first Breeders’ Cup Classic win a thriller — beating Toast of New York by a nose in a win that stood up to a stewards’ inquiry.

Baffert, trainer of three Kentucky Derby winners, five Preakness winners and a Belmont winner, captured his 11th Breeders’ Cup win but his long awaited first in the €4 million ($5m) Classic on his 13th attempt.

Watching the front-running Bayern, Baffert admitted, he wasn’t sure until the end.

“Toast of New York, he would not go away,” Baffert said. “And I watched California Chrome, he was making a good move. He looked good in the paddock.

I said this has been so long waiting, please, lord, you can’t take it away from me now. I don’t think I was breathing the last 20 yards of this race.”

The drama wasn’t over when they crossed the line, however, as the stewards reviewed some bumping and barging early in the race.

Finally the result stood: Bayern winning by a nose from English raider Toast of New York — running for the first time on dirt — with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome a close third.

Out in the cold was previously unbeaten Shared Belief.

Breeders Cup Classic Horse Racing Jockey Martin Garcia aboard in the winners circle. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The three-year-old star trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Mike Smith finished fourth, 3 1/2 lengths adrift.

Shared Belief had missed the Triple Crown campaign because of injury, but dominated the latter part of the season as California Chrome languished, and the Classic was billed as a battle to settle US Horse of the Year honors between the two.

But Smith said his horse didn’t have a chance after he was bumped at the start, when Bayern swerved left out of the seventh gate toward Shared Belief, forcing Smith’s mount, starting from the sixth slot, into another horse.

“I think it cost me the race,” Smith said.

Baffert, however, said he didn’t think his horse did anything wrong. He thought the sharp move out of the gate came because Bayern broke hard, and perhaps had the footing shift beneath him.

He praised Garcia for getting Bayern straightened out quickly, and said he thought Toast of New York did more crowding in the early going.

“It’s racing,” Baffert said. “It’s racing luck. We got completely eliminated in the Preakness, so that happens. You can’t control the start.”

More than two hours after the race ended, the Stewards issued a statement on their decision, confirming they had reviewed the start and determined “that the incident occurred in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they were reasonably expected to finish.”

2014 Breeders' Cup World Championships Trophy Lounge - Day 2 Source: Matt Sayles

While Shared Belief’s connections were nursing their wounds, Toast of New York trainer Jamie Osborne was singing the praises of his runner-up.

“He has run his heart out and he nearly pulled off the impossible,” Osborne said. “I’m incredibly proud of him and all the team.”

Trainer Art Sherman said he had “no excuses” for California Chrome, trying to bounce back from the doldrums that followed the Belmont Stakes defeat that ended his vaunted Triple Crown bid.

“He was right there,” Sherman said. “Right down to the money. I thought it was a great effort. He came back strong.”

Source: Breeders' Cup World Championships/YouTube

© – AFP 2014

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