won the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes by three lengths
at Santa Anita on Saturday, a year after finishing fifth in the Grade 2
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Teddy's Promise ran 7 furlongs in
1:22.64 on a dirt surface listed as wet-fast after earlier rain. The
5-year-old mare paid $5, $3.40 and $2.40 as the 3-2 favorite in the
field of seven.
Sugarinthemorning returned $7 and $4.20, while Kindle was another half-length back in third and paid $3.40 to show.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's duo of Distracting and Pink Lollipops finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
Teddy's Promise drew the No. 4 post, forcing Espinoza to move her outside where she prefers to run.
"There were two horses in front of me and I just tracked
them,'' he said. "At the three-eighths pole I kind of just let her do
her own thing, and turning for home I just let her run.''
Teddy's Promise went three-deep into the stretch and then took the lead nearing mid-stretch before pulling clear.
"She's back in form,'' trainer Ron Ellis said. "She's really
starting to relax and mature mentally. Physically, she's always been
quite a specimen, but mentally she's really turned a corner for us.''
Teddy's Promise was coming off a 5 ¼-length win in the Kalookan Queen Stakes as the 3-2 favorite on Dec. 29 at Santa Anita.
"That last race kind of got her a lot of confidence,'' Ellis
said. "I certainly don't think the mud hurts her. Her last one was on a
little bit of a wet track. This was a muddier track today, but she won a
Grade 1 on a fast track, so I think here at Santa Anita on the regular
dirt it's a little bit better fit.''
Baffert's day wasn't a total wash.
His horse, Fiftyshadesofhay, won the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 5 3/4 lengths.
Fiftyshadesofhay under Rafael Bejarano ran 1 1/16 miles in
1:42.89 on a dirt surface listed as wet-fast after earlier rain. She
paid $14.40, $4.80 and $2.40 as the 6-1 fourth choice in the field of
Heir Kitty returned $3.40 and $2.20 while finishing second for
the second straight race. Scarlet Strike was another 1 1/2 lengths back
in third and paid $2.10 to show as the 3-2 favorite.
Fiftyshadesofhay finished eighth in the mile Blue Norther
Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 1, an experiment Baffert
labeled "kind of disastrous.''
"She can run all day long. She's fast and she wants to be out
there,'' he said. "We were very high on her early in the year and it's
taken her a while to come around. But she ran like she's supposed to.
She didn't like the turf.''
Scarlet Strike, who lost by a nose in the Blue Norther, has been no worse than third in eight career starts.
"Obviously, I thought we were going to win,'' jockey Joe
Talamo said. "We were pretty high on her coming in, but the track's so
quick today, it's hard to make up any ground. They all seemed to run in