Lightly raced As Time Goes By, who was exiting her first graded-stakes win in the April 24 Santa Margarita (G2), pressed fractions of 23.83, 47.12 and 1:10.95 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith with multiple Grade 1 winner Ce Ce chasing that rival and This Tea sitting trailing the four-horse field. As Time Goes By seized the lead on the second turn and looked poised to draw off from the field, but rallying on the outside was This Tea and Kent Desormeaux. It was a nose-and-nose battle down to the wire with As Time Goes By getting a fortuitous head bob in a photo finish.
As Time Goes By completed 1 1/16-miles in 1:43.77 on a fast track and paid $2.80 as the odds-on favorite.
“I told Mike, we’ve been going easy on her, not too hard for this race," Baffert told Santa Anita publicity. "Today, this is the first time she’s come back really blowing. That filly that ran second ran a big race. (My filly’s) heart and true grit made her hang in there."
Santa Maria Stakes (G2)
1700m , 200.000 USD, for 3yo and upward mares
As Time Goes By (USA)
(4M American Pharoah - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere)
J : Mike E. Smith
T : Bob Baffert
O : Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith
B : Orpendale & Chelston pic.twitter.com/iTuC1SvVfR— WR1 (@WorldRacing1) May 22, 2021
"My hat's off to the filly that ran second, she ran a huge race," Smith said on the Santa Anita track feed. "But the Lakers don't blow everybody out. Sometimes you have to fight."
Baffert's previous win came on May 8 at Churchill Downs, one day prior to his announcement that Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby.
By Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, As Times Goes By is owned by the Coolmore connections of Michael Tabor, John Magnier and Derrick Smith.
“She’ll get more out of this race," Smith said. "After she ran so well last time out, they kind of backed off her a little bit. She’s a big mare with a big frame and she’ll tend to gain some weight and I could tell she was a little more stocked today. She got a little tired, but she’ll get a whole lot out of that.”
As Time Goes By is likely to remain in California for the balance of the campaign with the Breeders' Cup Distaff the ultimate goal.
“Right now, with the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, we wanna keep her here and run her here in the fall," Baffert said.