Awesome Baby fought off a determined challenge from runner-up Artemis
to win Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for
3-year-old fillies by 2 ¾ lengths under Mike Smith, getting 1 1/16
miles in a driving rain over a surface labeled wet/fast in 1:41.58.
Photo: Benoit Photo
Trained by Bob Baffert and the second choice in a field of five at
2-1, Awesome Baby broke from the two post and went gate to wire through
fractions of 23.44, 46.44, 1:09.80 and 1:34.86.
“The game plan was to break and get a clear lead so we could give her
a chance to take a breather,” said Smith. “We weren’t sure that she
would go long, she didn’t at (age) two. We got the first quarter in 23
and it was all her after that. I told Bob that I don’t know if it was
her turning three or the mud today, but I finished with something
left…She was well within herself at the wire and pulled up with a lot of
“I love riding in this stuff. I come from back east. It’s the
tracks that are drying out that no one really likes, but these wet/fast
tracks, they’re great to ride on.”
A Kentucky-bred by Awesome Again, Awesome Baby came off a
front-running score in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Santa Ynez Stakes on
Jan. 4 and paid $6.20, $3.60 and $2.80.
“She’s been working really well and we’ve been pointing her for this
race,” said Baffert. “I was a little bit worried about the off track,
but she was very professional today and we were hoping she would run
this well. Mike did a great job of keeping her on the lead.”
Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Awesome Baby won for the third time in
five starts and banked $60,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to
Ridden from the rail by Gary Stevens, Artemis sat second, a length
off the winner after a half mile, was unable to get on terms inside
Awesome Baby approaching the half mile pole. She challenged the winner
again leaving the quarter, but had to settle for second, a half length
in front of 3-2 favorite Swiss Lake Yodeler.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and the third choice at 5-2, Artemis paid $3.60 and $2.80.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano and also trained by Hollendorfer, Swiss
Lake Yodeler, the lone California-bred in the field, was attentive to
the pace but never threatened the winner, finishing third, 7 ½ lengths
in front of longshot Saintly Joan.
Swiss Lake Yodeler paid $2.40 to show.