Byrir gets Secretariat win


Silver Max, who had won five straight stakes entering Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat, ironically met his Waterloo against the French-bred and -trained Bayrir, who proved best over America's leading sophomore turf performers in Arlington's Park 1 1/4-mile fixture. The 3-1 third choice behind Silver Max and New York-based Summer Front, The Aga Khan's homebred returned $8.40, $4.80 and $3.60.

Taking his customary position at the front, Silver Max set a moderate tempo of :24 3/5 and :48 4/5 over the good ground. Bayrir broke a tad slow and found himself near the back of the eight-horse field racing with cover. However, he made steady advancement up the rail down the backside as pressure began to be exerted on Silver Max, who saw his two-length lead diminish to a half-length by Summer Front through six furlongs in 1:13 1/5.

Approaching the quarter pole, European shipper Daddy Long Legs was the first to head Silver Max, moving slightly ahead after a mile in 1:37 3/5, with Summer Front outside those two. Bayrir switched off the inside, split rivals in order to gain an outside position in the four path at the top of the stretch, and appeared to have plenty of gas with three-sixteenths to go.

Summer Front easily moved past the tiring Silver Max and Daddy Long Legs and opened up a 1 1/2-length lead, but Bayrir was too much horse for that rival in the final furlong. The son of Medicean wore down Summer Front with a quick burst and moved on past to register a 1 1/4-length victory in a time of 2:02 4/5.

"I think he's a very good horse, because he's very calm, as you saw before the race," trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said. "We had a good pace in the race, and he has a good turn of foot."

"It wasn't the plan [to be far back early] but the race started out very quickly. I let my horse get into the race," jockey Christophe Lemarie said. "On the backstretch, he was racing very well and he took the bit on his own around the last corner. When I put him out he reacted very well. He's a very clever horse. He's a very classy horse."

Finnegans Wake, an 8-1 chance and one of three Secretariat entrants trained by Dale Romans, rallied to pass Summer Front for runner-up honors by 1 1/4 lengths. Summer Front was two lengths ahead of Handsome Mike, who nosed out Silver Max for fourth. Completing the order of finish were Cozzetti, All Stormy and Daddy Long Legs.

Bayrir has now won four of five starts for earnings of $441,008. After a debut win at Maisons-Laffitte on May 14, Bayrir endured his only loss to date next time in the Prix Matchem over the same course. He entered the Secretariat off back-to-back wins in the Prix Ridgway at Saint-Cloud and the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam back at Maisons-Laffitte.

Bayrir was produced by the Darshaan mare Balankiya, a half-sister to Group 2 winner Balakheri and Group 3 winner Baliyana. This female family has also produced French classic winners Bering and Bourbon.