ARCADIA California (Reuters) - Upsets were the order of the day at the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday with the favourites denied in all nine races while Bayern commanded the spotlight in controversial style by winning the showpiece $5 million Classic.
Bayern, a 6-1 choice, survived a lengthy stewards’ inquiry before being confirmed as the winner of North America’s richest horse race by a nose after holding off Toast of New York at Santa Anita Park.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion California Chrome, a 4-1 shot, finished third while the 5-2 race favourite Shared Belief charged home late to take fourth, his first defeat in eight career starts.
However, the crowd of 61,114 watching the drama unfold was left hushed as the stewards reviewed a messy incident at the start of the race when several horses bumped into each other after Bayern broke sharply left into Shared Belief.
After a lengthy wait, the stewards made no changes to the finishing order following their inquiry, to the relief of Bayern’s jockey Martin Garcia and trainer Bob Baffert.
“You don’t like to see it, but you can’t control the start,” said Hall of Famer Baffert after celebrating his first Classic win in 13 tries.
“I think the nine horse (Toast of New York) probably came over and did more damage 100 yards out of the gate. But it’s racing. It’s racing luck.”
The second and final day of the Breeders’ Cup featured surprises in the other eight events.
Take Charge Brandi, a 60-1 long shot when she entered the starting gate, pulled off a stunning upset in the day’s first race, the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
With Victor Espinoza on board, the Kentucky-bred filly took control early on and finished strong to win by half a length from Top Decile, ridden by Rosie Napravnik.
Take Charge Brandi’s victory earned Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas a record 20th Breeders’ Cup win.
“I thought she had a great week and today I thought we could be a factor ... not that we would win it, but that we would do very well,” said the 79-year-old Lukas.
“Doesn’t always work out, but it worked out today. This is the most exciting one (win) yet.”
Texas Red blitzed down the home straight to blow away the field and claim an upset win in the $2 million Juvenile.
Sired by the 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winning Afleet Alex, Texas Red upstaged heavy favourites Carpe Diem and Daredevil to romp home by six and a half lengths clear at 13-1 odds and stamp himself a Kentucky Derby favourite.
“There is no doubt (we are thinking of the Derby),” trainer Keith Desormeaux said of the two-year-old.
“That’s why we’re in the game. He’ll be the Derby favorite, at this point, I would think.”
Veteran jockey Mike Smith extended his record number of Breeders’ Cup wins to 21 with a narrow victory on board Judy the Beauty in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint after making a flying start.
Judy the Beauty, who stalked the leaders before surging in front down the stretch, finished a head in front of Better Lucky.
“Absolutely dynamite,” said Smith. “I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Almost every step of it, except for almost getting caught.”
Japanese bred colt Karakontie continued the day’s upset theme by surging to victory in the $2 million Mile.
The 30-1 long shot mounted a stirring charge when it counted to finish one length ahead of Irish colt Anodin (10-1) and two lengths in front of Britain’s Trade Storm (20-1) in third.
It was the three-year-old’s fifth career win in nine starts and came as little surprise to trainer Jonathan Pease.
“It’s a great result. He was a brilliant two-year-old and was very good this spring,” said Pease. “We gave him a break and he showed a great turn of foot today.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Julian Linden