Bayrir translates to victory in Secretariat
Trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre said he wasn't sure why his French-bred colt was named Bayrir.
But he did know one thing Saturday afternoon at Arlington Park.
Bayrir's name can join the list of 35 other champions of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes which was first run in 1974, one year after Secretariat's renowned Triple Crown triumph.
With jockey Christophe Lemaire as the pilot in the colt's American debut, Bayrir hardly skipped a beat from his successful past performances (3 wins in 4 starts) while racing exclusively in France.
Owned by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 3-year-old son of Medicean swept by a well-respected group of sophomores to post a 1¼-lengths victory over Finnegans Wake.
"I don't know what Bayrir means, maybe his name comes from his mare's name (Balankiya)," Dupre said. "But he's a very good horse because he's very calm. We had a good pace in the race and he has a good turn of foot."
Sent off the third choice and paying $8.40 to win, Bayrir turned back graded stakes winners Silver Max and Summer Front.
Lemaire settled Bayrir in seventh early in the eight-horse field and they swept by their opponents in the final quarter, covering the 1¼-miles on good turf in 2:02.92.
Setting the pace was the favored Silver Max, who wasn't seriously threatened until Irish invader Daddy Long Legs began to apply pressure heading into the final turn.
But Silver Max held tough as Summer Front also made a three-wide move on the final turn.
However, neither could hold off the charging Bayrir.
"It wasn't the plan to be far back early, but the race started out very quickly," Lemaire said. "I let my horse get into the race and on the backstretch he was racing very well, and he took the bit on his own around the last corner. When I put him out, he reacted very well."
Silver Max faded to fifth while his stablemate from the barn of Dale Romans, Finnegans Wake, got up for second over a tiring Summer Front.
"I don't know where Daddy Long Legs was going, but I don't understand how he was trying to win the race with that move," said Romans, who won the Million later in the day with Little Mike. "Finnegans Wake ran huge. He's just going to get better, especially the further they go."
The losses snapped a six-race winning streak for Silver Max and a five-race winning streak on the turf for Summer Front.
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