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updated: 11/1/2014 10:17 PM

Bayern wins Breeders' Cup by a nose

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  • Jockey Florent Geroux celebrates after riding Work All Week to victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint horse race at Santa Anita Park, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Arcadia, Calif.

    Jockey Florent Geroux celebrates after riding Work All Week to victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint horse race at Santa Anita Park, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Arcadia, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Bayern won the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose, surviving a stewards' inquiry prompted by multiple horses bumping near the start of Saturday's race.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had to wait, along with 61,114 at Santa Anita, to confirm that he had finally won North America's richest race after failing in 12 previous tries.

"It's been so long waiting, I was like, 'Lord, you can't take it away from me now,' " said Baffert, who has won just about every other big race in the sport, including three Kentucky Derbies. "I couldn't breathe the last 20 yards."

Bayern ran 1¼ miles in 1:59.88 and paid $14.20, $8 and $5.20 at 6-1 odds.

Toast of New York returned $18 and $10.80. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was another neck back in third and paid $5.40 to show.

Shared Belief, the 5-2 favorite co-owned by sports talk host Jim Rome, was knocked off his game at the start and finished fourth, ending his undefeated streak at seven.

The inquiry involved the first four finishers.

The start of the race was a wild one, with some of the horses in the full field of 14 bounced into each other like bumper cars at the county fair.

Luckily, no one appeared to get hurt.

Bayern, with Martin Garcia aboard, came over sharply on Shared Belief out of the starting gate. That forced Shared Belief into Moreno, with V.E. Day getting squeezed. Several strides later, as the horses were scrambling to settle in for the run past the grandstand, Toast of New York smacked Moreno.

Out of the chaos, Bayern emerged with the lead, appropriate since he is usually the fastest horse away from the gate.

Candy Boy was sixth, followed by Cigar Street, Zivo, Imperative and Footbridge. V.E. Day was 11th, followed by Prayer for Relief, Majestic Harbor and Moreno.

Bayern's two previous biggest wins of the year were in the Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby. He missed the Kentucky Derby and finished ninth in the Preakness. He turned the corner with an impressive win in the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard, starting a run of four stakes wins in his last five starts.

Sprint:

Work All Week held off defending champion Secret Circle by a half-length in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The 5-year-old gelding pulled a 19-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup debuts for jockey Florent Geroux and Chicago-based trainer Roger Brueggermann.

"It feels great," Geroux said. "It is a dream come true. To compete in these races and win on the first try is unbelievable, especially with a horse from home -- Illinois-bred and for Roger Brueggemann, a great trainer nobody knows because he flies under the radar and improves horses a lot.

"Work All Week has always been so good. Today was the real test to see if he can go with the best sprinters in the country, and he just did it. It's funny because when he made the lead he really put the breaks on, and I had to say 'No, don't stop!' and get him going again and he gave me more."

The time was 1:08.28 for 6 furlongs.

Work All Week, who improved to 12-for-15, paid $40.20, $18.40 and $11.

"I thought he would move up in class," Brueggeman said, "I really did, but you never know."

Local racing fans know quite well that Geroux can ride in big races.

On Million Preview Day on July 12 at Arlington Park, Geroux won three consecutive Grade III stakes races: the Stars and Stripes (The Pizza Man), the American Derby (Divine Oath) and the Modesty Handicap (I'm Already Sexy).

There's another local twist with the French-born Geroux, who rode at more than 50 race tracks in France.

His agent is Doug Bredar, a Maine West High graduate who is married to veteran horse racing TV and radio personality Caton Bredar, a Barrington High School graduate.

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