Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. celebrates with a groom after his mount, Embellishing Bob, was declared the winner of the Derby Trial.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Embellishing Bob won the $150,000 Derby Trial on Saturday night after stewards disqualified Bayern for interference down the stretch of a thrilling three-wide finish at Churchill Downs.
Bayern and Embellishing Bob ran 1-2 throughout and carried their fierce battle into the stretch, making contact in the final furlong. Nearing the wire, Bayern continued pushing Embellishing Bob farther outside, contact that allowed late-charging Myositis Dan to rally and create a three-way photo finish in the Grade 1 opening-night feature at the storied track.
Embellishing Bob jockey Brian Hernandez immediately lodged an objection against Bayern rider Rosie Napravnik. Stewards took several minutes during the inquiry before disqualifying Bayern to second place, giving Embellishing Bob his second straight win.
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Said Steve Margolis, Embellishing Bob’s trainer, ”he did get bumped legitimately by (trainer) Bob (Baffert’s) horse with his hind end, and so we dug in and ran a big race.”
Napravnik disputed Hernandez’s interference claim, saying, ”it wasn’t any more me than him. I was surprised he claimed (interference) on me. I thought we won it fair. My horse ran hard and ran well.”
Embellishing Bob ran a mile in 1:36.73 and paid $11.60, $4.60 and $3.40.
Bayern, the Baffert-trained favorite, returned $3.00 and $2.40, and Myositis Dan paid $3.80 to show.
The finish spoiled Baffert’s quest for some early stakes-race momentum entering Saturday’s 140th Kentucky Derby, where he has qualified Chitu with 54 points. Baffert originally had entered Bayern and Chitu in the Derby Trial before scratching Chitu as expected to save him for the Run for the Roses.
Also scratched was Ron Moquett-trained Bitters N’ Bourbon, leaving Bayern to lead an eight-horse field running under the lights and a brand-new high-definition video board unveiled amid much fanfare two hours beforehand.
Bayern delivered throughout, though replays showed him nudging Embellishing Bob several feet to his right. Baffert acknowledged there was contact although he didn’t see it and accepted the stewards’ ruling.
”What are you going to do?” he said. ”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. … They made the right call.”