Late-blooming 5-year-old Ellafitz will aim for a career high note as
well as her fourth straight stakes victory Saturday when facing five
challengers in Santa Anita’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes,
the season’s racing highlight for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8
“She’s in a zone right now,” trainer Bob Baffert said of the bay
daughter of Tiznow who did not win her first stakes race until last
Dec. 11 when taking the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in
her 12th start. Moving to Santa Anita, Ellafitz promptly followed with
impressive victories in the Paseana Handicap and the Grade II Santa
Maria on Feb. 18.
She clearly made a believer of Baffert. “Ellafitz runs hard, she
runs fast,” he said. “Last time (Santa Maria), they took all kinds of
shots at her. She took a lot of heat and kept going. They sent a rabbit
out there, but my mare is doing better for this race than she was before
the last race.”
If she runs to expectations, the mare owned by the D.& E.
Racing partnership of David and Ella Sivage will fill one of the few
major voids in the Hall of Fame trainer’s ample dossier. Baffert has
never reached the winner’s circle following a running of the Santa
Santa Anita will celebrate the event’s 75th running by
recognizing a blessed event in the life of the special mare who won the
race two years ago. A poster of Zenyatta and her recently born first
foal, a colt by Bernardini, will be distributed to fans in a promotion
being called “a baby shower.”
Baffert will double team this year’s Santa Margarita while also
sending out the 4-year-old Awesome Again filly Awesomemundo in search of
her first stakes win, but Ellafitz, ridden by Martin Garcia, will
represent the heavy ammunition.
Her victory in the Santa Maria demonstrated her grit when
turning back challenge after challenge. “She’s just showing that she’s
getting better and better,” Baffert said afterward. “Once she gets in
her groove, she’s got a lot of Game On Dude in her. She really fought.
She’s just getting better with age.”
Named for her dam, Skat Girl, a reference to the late jazz
legend, Ella FitzGerald, Kentucky-bred Ellafitz has earned $397,957 from
a 6-2-2 record in 14 career starts.
Her opposition includes Jay Em Ess Stable’s Include Me Out,
freshened since capturing the Grade II La Canada Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
She won by 4 ¼ lengths in an 8-1 upset on Jan. 22. The dominant win
came in the 4-year-old Include filly’s seventh start and her first
around two turns.
She just looked comfortable all the way,” trainer Ron Ellis
said following Include Me Out’s La Canada triumph under jockey Joe
Talamo. “She’s just been learning coming up to this, but pedigree-wise
she wanted to go two turns. I felt good about it.”
Talamo will be back aboard the $150,000 sales purchase who has earned $183,600 from a 3-2-0 record in seven starts.
The complete field for the Santa Margarita Stakes, with jockeys
and weights in post position order: Miss Mittagong, Mario Gutierrez,
118; LoveTheway Youare, Joel Rosario, 118; Kayce Ace, Victor Espinoza,
118; Ellafitz, Martin Garcia, 120; Include Me Out, Joseph Talamo, 118,
and Awesomemundo, Mike Smith, 118.