By Dick Downey
Embellishing Bob, nosed at the wire by Bayern, got the nod from stewards to win the Derby Trial on opening night at Churchill Downs.
Bayern broke on top from post 1, but he never got clear of Embellishing Bob to his outside, and the pair dueled throughout the one-mile, one-turn race.
In deep stretch while under a left-handed whip from Rosie Napravnik, Bayern drifted out, herding Embellishing Bob and Brian Hernandez toward the outer rail while Myositis Dan closed strongly to get into the photo, two noses apart from the top runner.
Bayern’s nose hit the finish line first, but the inquiry sign lit up quickly, and stewards took Bayern down. Laddie Boy ran fourth, beaten 1 3/4 length.
Friendswith K Mill was fifth, followed by Spot, Matador and Big Sugar Soda.
The race was timed in 1:36.73.
The Derby Trial carries no Kentucky Derby points. Bayern has 20 of them along with five others. The tiebreaker is non-restricted stakes earnings. Bayern’s share of the $150,000 purse puts him into 21st position on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
He now stands ahead of Commanding Curve, Pablo Del Monte and Social Inclusion. Vinceremos and Harry’s Holiday remain ahead of Bayern.
Brian Hernandez, Jr.: "(Rosie Napravnik) was getting out the whole way. She bumped us. That's why I claimed. There didn't look to be a whole lot of speed in the race, so I just rode it the way it came up. He's a young horse, but he's talented and we tried to take advantage of that tonight. We asked him to run hard and he did. He showed just how good he is."
Steve Margolis, winning trainer: "We were happy with his last race at the Fair Grounds. And it was like Mr. Cherry said, let's take a shot. He's been doing really good and I knew the one-turn mile wasn't out of his reach."
"We've got to look at his family and take a little more conservative of a route. His family is a lot of seven-furlong horses, maybe milers, so I'll talk with Mr. Cherry about it... There's the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day. We'll just have to kick it around but he's a nice colt and he's run good every time we've run him. He did get bumped legitimately by Bob's horse with his hind end and so we dug in and ran a big race."
Rosie Napravnik: "It wasn't any more me than him. I was surprised he claimed on me. I thought we won it fair. My horse ran hard and ran well."
Bob Baffert, trainer of Bayern: "I don't know. I never got to see it. There was contact. Apparently it was the right call because they took him down. What are you going to do? At first I thought he hung on and won. Then I saw the inquiry. I saw all the bumping, there was a lot of stuff going on there. He ran well, but he's still a young horse. We need to get him back, a little bit off the lead. He got a little tired at the end. The track is demanding tonight. He got a lot out of it." (After seeing the replay) "They made the right call."
Will he run in the Preakness:? "We'll see. We'll play it by ear."