Bayern ponders Travers or Penn Derby - NBC Sports

Bayern ponders Travers or Penn Derby
July 28, 2014, 6:45 pm

Dominant Haskell Invitational winner Bayern flew from New Jersey to California early Monday afternoon, but Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is eyeing a trip back east for the Offlee Wild colt's next start.

Baffert said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga on August 23 is on the radar for Bayern, impressive in taking the Haskell by 7 1/4 lengths in front-running fashion.

"I'm looking at the Travers or the Pennsylvania Derby," Baffert said by phone on Monday. "A lot will have to do with his energy and how taxing the race was on him. It's cooler here and it's relaxing, so we'll get him back here and see how he's doing. He looks great."

The Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby is September 20 at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Baffert has won the 1 1/4-mile Travers once in four tries, with eventual Horse of the Year Point Given in 2001. He was third with Roman Ruler in 2005, 10th with 2011 Haskell winner Coil and ninth with Liaison in 2012.

"It takes a good one (to win the Travers)," Baffert said. "We'll know in a couple weeks. We'll give him a couple weeks and see how he's doing."

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Bayern has four wins from six starts this year, including a 7 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7. He finished ninth of 10 after a rough trip in thePreakness and was disqualified from a win in the Derby Trial and placed second for interference.

In the Haskell, Bayern broke on top and led through fractions of :23 2/5 for a quarter-mile, :47 3/5 for the half and six furlongs in 1:11 before hitting the wire in 1:47 4/5.

"He really showed me a lot," said Baffert, who won the Haskell for the seventh time. "I was expecting a good race out of him, but he just kept on kicking and showed me that two turns isn't going to be a problem. He showed us a lot early on, and then he took a couple steps backward, and I was losing a little confidence in him.

"When he ran in the Derby Trial I lost a little confidence in him and in the Preakness he got completely wiped out and never had a chance. The Belmont race was off the charts. He's got two off-the-charts races in a row and I just want to keep him in that mindset. I don't want to rush him."

Trainer Jose Garoffalo said Monday morning that the Travers and the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop at seven furlongs, both on August 23, are among the races being considered for Wildcat Red.

"We're still thinking about it," Garoffalo said by phone from New Jersey. "I'm going to check the horse today and tomorrow and then we'll see what we're going to do. The horse came back so far in good shape. He tried. He did his job. He's a hell of a horse."

Owned by Honors Stable Corp., Wildcat Red has been off the board once in 10 lifetime starts when he finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby. At Gulfstream Park this winter, he won the Hutcheson at seven furlongs and Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles 20 days apart, and was second by a neck to Constitution in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.

Breaking from post 8 of nine under jockey Luis Saez in the Haskell, the son of Grade 1-winning sprinter D'wildcat stalked eventual winner Bayern in second before being passed in deep stretch and finishing a length behind runner-up Albano.

"He did a great job," Garoffalo said. "I think it could have been better. I think that Saez should have been a little bit more aggressive with the horse the first part of the race. We could have gone maybe faster and maybe the result would have been different; at least, we would have finished second. But, it was good. I'm happy with the race and the horse."

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