Report: USA, Saturday
Churchill Downs: Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 4yo
BREEDERS’ Cup Classic winner Bayern produced a dismal performance on his seasonal debut, finishing last of six and virtually stopping to a walk in the stretch behind the gutsy Private Zone (Jorge Navarro/Martin Pedroza).
The six-year-old, who led from the gate in this $500,000 contest, was briefly headed by Nates Mineshaft after turning for home only to fight back in determined fashion to record the fourth Grade 1 success of his career. Sent off a 27-10 chance, Private Zone recorded a time of 1m22.54s.
Bayern was slowish at the break against the 7f specialists and unable to get the lead on his return to action after a hind-foot abscess. He chased the pace in third but was a spent force before turning for home, possibly sulking at being forced behind horses, and dropped right back through the field.
“He didn’t have the kick that he usually does,” said jockey Martin Garcia. “He was done at the half-mile. He didn’t handle the track at all; he didn’t like it.”
Also on Saturday
Churchill Downs: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 4yo+
Deep closer Finnegans Wake (Peter Miller/Victor Espinoza), fully five lengths detached at the back of the field in the early stages, benefited from a strong pace to grab this on the line.
Having won three Grade 2s in California over the winter, the six-year-old was driven home widest of all outside the eight other runners under a heavy-handed whip assault from his rider.
Sent off just short of 4-1, he touched off front-running Sky Captain and Jack Milton, with Seek Again just behind, to claim this $500,000 event. Sky Captain, second at the wire, was demoted to fourth for drifting out in the final lunge for the line.
Top turf mare Stephanie’s Kitten was scratched.
Churchill Downs: Humana Distaff (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
Dame Dorothy (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano) landed her first top-level success in determined style, just getting the better of even-money favourite Judy The Beauty inside the final furlong after a three-way battle also featuring front-runner Moonlit Stroll. The four-year-old daughter of Bernardini, who has now won six of her eight career starts, was returned a 13-5 chance.
Churchill Downs: Pat Day Mile (Grade 3) 1m, dirt, 3yo
Qatar Racing’s Peace And War, who missed the cut in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, found no sort of compensation here as she finished last of eight behind impressive winner Competitive Edge (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez). A Grade 1 winner last summer at two before an injury layoff, the son of Super Saver was taking his unbeaten record to four.
Churchill Downs: American Turf Stakes (Grade 2) 1m½f, turf, 3yo
Royal Ascot entry Luck Of The Kitten raced prominently but could finish only fourth behind Divisidero (Buff Bradley/ Rafael Hernandez), who produced a strong late kick to rally from well back in the straight.
Churchill Downs: Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade 2) 1m, turf, 4yo+ f/m
Julien Leparoux was left alone up front on 9-1 shot Tepin (Mark Casse), who made the most of the easy lead to go wire-to-wire, setting moderate fractions and then being kicked for home before the better-fancied fillies got moving in a two-length victory.
Belmont Park: Westchester Stakes (Grade 3) 1m, dirt, 4yo+
Making his four-year-old debut, last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (Christophe Clement/Joe Bravo) gave weight away to three rivals, coming from the rear for a comfortable victory. He is now four-from-four at the New York venue.
Palace Malice, the 2013 Belmont winner, was scratched with a bruised off-fore.
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