Ridden with confidence by jockey Victor Espinoza, Bajan, the 4-5 favorite, responded with a decisive victory in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Content to trail early in the field of five 2-year-old fillies while saving ground, Espinoza angled the daughter of Speightstown outside pacesetter Sergeant O’Rourke and Lemon de Oro for the stretch run and she asserted her superiority in the final eighth of a mile.
Trained by Simon Callaghan for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Ronald Frankel, Bajan completed the seven furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:24.26.
The victory by 2 ¼ lengths was the third in five starts – second in a row in a stakes - for the Kentucky-bred, who is out of the Aptitude mare Critikal Reason.
A 3-1 winner of the Anoakia Oct. 13 at Santa Anita, Bajan paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10 for the Moccasin score. She’s earned $159,150.
“It went to plan,’’ said Callaghan. “We took back and the good thing about her is she is so rateable and so sensible. She just sits back and travels and has that turn of foot.
“I think we’ll definitely consider the (Grade I, $500,000-guaranteed Hollywood) Starlet (Dec. 7) now. She galloped out strong and we’re picking up the distance steadily. She’s shown she is a really good filly.’’
The Starlet, which is run at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track, would be Bajan’s first start around two turns. She’d run seven furlongs once before Saturday, finishing sixth in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante Aug. 31.
“She’s going in the right direction,’’ said Espinoza, who also won the 2000 Moccasin with Jetinexcess. “She’s very easy to ride and when I ask her to go she’s quick, really fast. It’s nice to ride horses like that.
“She’s such a nice filly right now and she’s still learning. She’s going to be a really nice filly.’’
Making her first start since being claimed for $50,000 by Reddam Racing LLC and trainer Doug O’Neill out of a 10 ¼-length win in her debut Oct. 10, For Emma rallied for the place, finishing 4 ¼ lengths in front of 3-1 second choice Lemon de Oro, making her first start after California for trainer H. Graham Motion after defeating maidens Oct. 19 at Keeneland.
For Emma paid $3.80 and $2.80 while the show price on Lemon de Oro was $3.
Completing the order of finish were Sergeant O’Rourke and E Equalsmcsquared. Perched, a maiden owned by Reddam Racing and trained by O’Neill, was scratched.
Racing will resume Sunday. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The main event is the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes. A Grade III for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs over Cushion Track, the Prevue is headed by Kobe’s Back, making his first start since an impressive debut victory in the Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes June 15, and Shared Belief, a winner by seven lengths in his initial start Oct. 19 at Golden Gate Fields.
The Prevue goes as the third of nine races.
The fourth day of the final Autumn meet will also mark the return of the “405 Double,’’ a daily double wager linking the final race at Betfair Hollywood Park with the opener at Los Alamitos.
The $2 minimum bet will be offered every Sunday throughout the season, which concludes Dec. 22. The first race each Sunday at Los Alamitos will feature thoroughbreds going 4 ½ furlongs.