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Bayern sizzles in Woody Stephens presented by RTN

By Jenny Kellner | 06/07/2014 08:33 PM ET
PHOTO/Susie Raisher

Overlooked at 9-1, Bayern sprinted away from his foes in the stretch and onto a 7 1/2-length victory in the 30th running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by RTN on Saturday at Belmont Park, covering the seven furlongs in a sizzling 1:20.75.

With Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in the irons, Bayern took command on the backstretch and then rocketed to the finish line, leaving his 12 rivals far behind.

"That was a powerhouse performance," said Stevens of the Bob Baffert trainee. "He had a bad experience in the gate in the Preakness [finishing ninth]. [Assistant] Jimmy Barnes and Bob's crew did a great job getting him ready by schooling, schooling, schooling him. Then when I saw we drew the one hole, I thought 'Oh no, he's going to be standing in there a long time,' so I was worried. But he made a perfect break and when I asked him he turned in what was an awesome performance today. He really deserved that win."

Bayern, who was beaten 21 lengths by Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome in the Preakness, is now 2-for-2 at the Woody Stephens distance, having broken his maiden at seven furlongs at Santa Anita on January 4. The dark bay son of Offlee Wild also has scored twice at a mile, taking a first-level allowance and the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.

"You just have to draw a line through the Preakness," said Barnes. "He lost all chance at the start. We were up against it here because we drew the one hole. He left the gate running, set some serious fractions, and finished very strong."

Bayern, owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc. returned $20.40 for a $2 win bet and earned $275,000. His bankroll now stands at $477,680.

Social Inclusion, the even-money favorite who skipped the Belmont in favor of the Woody Stephens, finished third, a head behind runner-up Top Fortitude.

 "He got a perfect trip, I guess," said jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard the beaten favorite. "That horse that won, won very good. It's tough."

Checking in fourth was Kobe's Back, who was followed by Pure Sensation, Coup de Grace, Embellishing Bob, Tonito M., Spot, Meadowood, Havana, Financial Mogul, and Favorite Tale.