Bayern will make the start in Saturday night’s Derby Trials at Churchill Downs and in the process is unlikely to enter in the Kentucky Derby. Bayern is currently #23 in the Derby points standings meaning that three horses would need to drop out in the next week to allow him to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. If he makes the start in tonight’s Derby Trial he could theoretically earn enough money to win a ‘tiebreaker’ (money earnings in non restricted races) but there’s little chance that trainer Bob Baffert would bring him back for the Kentucky Derby with just a one week break.
Trainer Baffert has been high on Bayern since before the season started and he got a lot of press coverage early on. Much was made about the fact that Bayern was unraced as a two year old giving him a chance to be the first Kentucky Derby winner not to race in his two year old campaign since Apollo did it back in 1882. The long drought between this happening has become known as the ‘Curse of Apollo’ though due to changes in the way young race horses are brought along and the new points based Derby qualification system there’s far less motivation to overrace young horses. In other words, it’ll happen sooner rather than later and could happen this year–Social Inclusion (who is likely in the Derby field) is also unraced as a two year old.
Bayern finished a disappointing third in the Arkansas Derby behind co-favorite Ride on Curlin and upset race winner Danza. That left him on ‘the bubble’ for Derby qualification and left Baffert with several options, none particularly appealing. He can wait and see if three horses drop out of the race which may or may not happen. Alternately, he can enter Bayern in the Derby Trial which could get him qualified but that would also set up an undesirable situation–Bayern has had only three lifetime starts and with the Arkansas Derby two weeks ago, the Derby Trial this week and the Kentucky Derby next week that would be three starts in four weeks which is a brutal schedule for the most battle tested horse.