Bayern and jockey Martin Garcia win 2014 Breeders' Cup and defeat California Chrome

November 2, 2014

Arcadia, Calif. -- California Chrome, the American thoroughbred and one of the favorites to win the 2014 Breeder’s Cup Classic, fell two spots short of claiming the $5 million prize this past Saturday in front of a full house in attendance at Santa Anita Park.

Surprisingly, fellow American three-year old thoroughbred Bayern and jockey Martin Garcia brought home the win for owner Kaleem Shah with an exhilarating race from start to finish at this year’s prestigious event.  But Bayern's victory was not without controversy.

Right out of the gates, Bayern took the lead out of the seventh post, followed by #9 Toast of New York, and California Chrome, who drew post 13 in a field of 14.

However, in getting off to that quick start, Bayern seemed to veer into some of the other horses -- a disruption many felt affected the result of the race.  In fact, the official chart of the race stated, “Bayern broke inward bumping Shared Belief."

“I think it's pretty simple," said Shared Belief's part-owner Alex Solis II.  "Right when the gates broke the horse came over and (jockey) Mike (Smith) said he got hit really hard and that slowed him down - then the whole field came over on him and Moreno was getting out on him. Obviously he got into a lot of trouble."

When asked directly about the incident, jockey Mike Smith said straightforwardly, “I think it cost me the race.”

Reaching out toward the front at the initial straightaway, California Chrome began to show a small glimpse of promise.  But favorite #6 Shared Belief quickly took the second spot, Toast of New York fell to the third position, and California Chrome fell back to sixth.

Bayern, who kept the lead after the initial 3/4 mile turn, began to gain further ground, at one point eventually leading by up to one full length.

“In this situation, you don’t take away when a horse likes to run on the lead," said jockey Martin Garcia.  "We let him run, and if anything happens, you make adjustments.  In this race, he broke really good and I took advantage.”

With 3 and 1/8 of a mile to go, and with Bayern still keeping the lead and Shared Belief trailing right behind, California Chrome began to rally and pull into the fifth position.

Suddenly, the magic of horse racing, and the awe-striking ability of California Chrome became self-evident.

Out of nowhere, at the start of the final stretch, California Chrome stunned the thousands in attendance with his grace, power, and speed, as he came from behind along the outside to progressively compete with the leaders.

California Chrome unbelievably drew closer and closer to the top spot, creating an instant adrenaline-pumping experience that only those present could attest to, and those absent would have had to see and feel in person to believe.

“Wow, wow, wow,” shouted fans in near proximity to this reporter, as they watched California Chrome display his incredible talent on his late come-from-behind charge.  It seemed as though he might have inched his way into the second position.

It was a close finish.  So close that a hold inquiry on all tickets was announced.  The crowd was left with uncertainty as to whether California Chrome might have actually won the race or at least managed somehow to pull in to second.

There was an unofficial announcement claiming Bayern the winner, Toast of New York second, and fan favorite California Chrome third.  Shared Belief captured fourth, 3 ½ lengths behind California Chrome.

However, a Steward’s Inquiry was made to re-examine the true winner, generating great suspense for what felt like an eternity.

Eventually the announcer shared on the PA system that the unofficial call was ruled to stand with no change.

Bayern's win gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his first Breeders’ Cup Classic victory.  Jockey Martin Garcia had been aboard Bayern’s last three starts, among them wire-to-wire wins in the Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby.

Had there been just a bit more distance added to the 1 and ¼ mile dirt course, California Chrome arguably might have won, although Chrome's outside route did add distance to his overall race.

“The outside post definitely helped me get the position I wanted, I had a good trip," said jockey Victor Espinoza.  "On the backstretch I thought I had a chance to win, but I knew the other horse (Bayern) was going to be tough when he gets the lead like that. The last 16th he (California Chrome) was digging as hard as he could, but getting just a little tired. I wish he had one more race. It was a little too much for him today.”

In addition to Bayern's thrilling win, a full lineup of 13 exhilarating Grade 1 races was held at the two-day Breeders' Cup with purses totaling $26 million.

This well-attended annual international racehorse event brought some of the best racehorses from around the globe to compete for the best in breed.  Bayern earned the highest compensation purse of $5 million for his win in the event's final race.

That loaded race featured the winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (California Chrome), and the winner of the 2014 Belmont Stakes (Tonalist).

On a side note, according to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism), the Breeders’ Cup provides one of the largest local economic boosts among sports events in Los Angeles, generating an estimated $65 Million to Los Angeles County's economy.

“We have a very enthusiastic and powerful fan base,” explained Craig Fravel, president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, for the event's success.

By Felix Hernandez
Contributing Writer for

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