Kaleem Shah’s Bayern rolled to a front-running, 5 ¾-length victory in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2), defeating dual Classic winner California Chrome and giving Bob Baffert his first Penn Derby win.
Bayern, who won the $1 million Haskell (G1) in July using his early speed, came out of the gate running Saturday’s contest as well. When California Chrome got pinned inside a few lengths back, Bayern was left to his own devices. Longshot C J’s Awesome made a run at the leader on the backstretch, but Bayern pulled away and was never really seriously threatened in the last half-mile.
The final time of 1:46.96 set a new track record for the 1 1/8-miles.
"When California Chrome was pinned in there, I knew it was going be tough for California Chrome," Baffert said. "He was the target; we weren't the target. When Bayern runs like that, nobody's going to beat him. Like in the Haskell."
Bred in Kentucky by Helen Alexander, Bayern has won five of nine starts and has earned $1,639,680. He also won the Woody Stephens S. (G2).
Bayern was a $320,000 purchase at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-year-olds in training sale from the Eddie Woods consignment.
According to Baffert, Bayern could start in either the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) or Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), but would wait a few weeks before making a final decision.