LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Private Zone was the front-running winner in the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes as Bayern faded badly Saturday in his season debut.
Many in the record crowd of 170,513 at Churchill Downs expected a victorious return for Bayern, the 4-5 favorite making his first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.
Bayern, trained by Bob Baffert, wound up sixth.
"He didn't have the kick he usually does," jockey Martin Garcia said. "He didn't handle the track at all. He didn't like it."
The surface was not an issue for Private Zone who grabbed the lead early and powered to a 4 1-4 length victory over Nates Mineshaft.
The second choice at 5-2, Private Zone raced to his eighth win in 27 starts. The 6-year-old, ridden by Martin Pedroza and trained by Jorge Navarro, improved $7.40 to win.
"This is some horse," Pedroza said. "He is so good."
The winner ran seven furlongs in 1:22.54.
In other the stakes on Derby Day:
—Finnegans Wake rallied from far back to take the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
Sky Captain was disqualified from second and placed fourth for interfering with Seek Again. In the revised order of finish, Jack Milton moved up to second with Seek Again third.
Victor Espinoza rode for trainer Peter Miller as Finnegans Wake got his fourth stakes wins in the last five starts. He paid $9.40 to win. The time was 1:47.24 for 1 1/8 miles.
—Tepin showed her heels to the pack, posting a front-running win in the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile for her fourth victory in 10 starts.
She was trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Tepin held off Coffee Clique, the defending champion in this race, by 1 1/2 lengths, paying $20.20 to win. The time was 1:34.12.
—Celebrity chef Bobby Flay cooked up a winner in the $300,000 Humana Distaff as Dame Dorothy, named for his mother, edged Judy the Beauty by a neck in a rousing battle to the wire.
It was the second stakes win of the day for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Dame Dorothy, a 4-year-old, got her sixth victory in eight starts, paying $7.20 to win. Javier Castellano was aboard for the seven furlongs in 1:22.67.
Judy the Beauty suffered a tough-luck loss in her comeback, the first race since she captured the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last November at Santa Anita.
—Divisidero flashed his powerful kick in a bold run down the center of the course for an 8-1 upset in the $250,000 American Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The colt trained by Buff Bradley and ridden by Rafael Hernandez is 2 for 3 after rallying from 11th to beat A Lot by three quarters of a length.
He paid $19.20 to win.
The time was 1:41.59 for 1 1-16 miles on the firm course.
—The $200,000 Derby Trial for 3-year-olds, the traditional opening day feature at Churchill Downs, has a new name and a new spot on the calendar.
It has been rechristened the Pat Day Mile, in honor of the retired Hall of Fame rider and moved to the Derby undercard. Day, dapper in a dark suit, was on hand for the trophy presentation to a winner with a very bright future.
Competitive Edge improved to 4 for 4 with another commanding win. He beat Pain and Misery by 4 1/2 lengths with John Velazquez aboard for Pletcher, paying $4.60 to win as the 6-5 favorite.
The time was a stakes-record 1:34.18.
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