A capacity crowd turned up at Parx Racing for the 20 September 2014 $1 million Gr2 Pennsylvania Stakes. Although most fans were there to see the return of California Chrome, they were given a racing showcase.
Bob Baffert-trained Bayern jumped smartly and jockey Martin Garcia quickly seized the lead, coasting through a quarter-mile in :24.07. They held a half-length advantage on C J’s Awesome through a half-mile in :47.89. In the turn and through the stretch, Bayern and Garcia capitalised on their advantage.
While Bayern cruised along at the front, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’s home-bred California Chrome was bottled up turning for home. Making his first start since finishing fourth in the Gr1 Belmont Stakes, 4-5 favorite California Chrome raced in third throughout most of the race, saving ground along the rail for jockey Victor Espinoza, but clearly did not enjoy being boxed in and faded to finish 6th.
California Chrome had not started in more than three months going into the Pennsylvania Derby, which marked the longest break of his career. California Chrome’s career began with a runner-up finish against other California-breds on 26 April 2012 maiden race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Kaleem Shah’s Bayern returned to the form that saw him win the Gr1 Haskell Invitational Stakes two starts ago at Monmouth Park. Turning for home, Bayern opened on the field and was never threatened in the stretch, posting a 5 3/4-length victory and completing the 1 1/8-mile test in a new track record time of 1:46 4/5.
Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred Tapiture, who entered off a narrow victory in the Gr2 West Virginia Derby, finished second. C R K Stable’s Candy Boy, who was just edged by Tapiture in the West Virginia Derby, and was just edged by that rival again, finishing a head behind him in third.
Bred in Kentucky by Helen Alexander, Bayern has won five of nine starts, all this year, and has earned $1,639,680. The Pennsylvania Derby marked his third graded stakes win since 7 June 2014. Bayern is out of the unraced Thunder Gulch mare Alittlebitearly, who has produced three winners from as many starters.
Bayern was a $320,000 purchase at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-year-olds in training sale from the Eddie Woods consignment. He is the first grade I winner for his dam, who has produced three winners in as many starters.