Baffert 3-peat: Fun to Dream delivers in Santa Monica

Baffert 3-peat: Fun to Dream delivers in Santa Monica
Photo: Casey Phillips / Eclipse Sportswire

Ridden with supreme confidence by Juan Hernandez, California-bred Fun to Dream rallied from off the pace to take Saturday’s Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths, giving trainer Bob Baffert his third consecutive win in the $200,000 race at Santa Anita.

Owned and bred in part by Baffert and his wife Jill, the 4-year-old daughter of Arrogate got the seven furlongs in 1:22.75 on the fast, main track.

Click here for Santa Anita entries and results.

Unhurried out of the gate, Fun to Dream, the 1-2 favorite in a field of six older fillies and mares, was in fifth place about two lengths off the lead at the three-furlong pole and in very tight quarters. Hernandez split horses while three deep at the top of the lane and easily inhaled a well-meant Awake At Midnyte inside the furlong pole.

“Juan rides her with so much confidence,” said Baffert, who got his second stakes win on the afternoon. “He has gotten a chance to ride these good horses, and that’s what he does is ride them with such confidence hoping they have something at the end. I was worried about the three-eighths, but she was looking good today and doing the best I’ve seen her do. It just goes to show that she’s ready to (run) a mile or two turns.”

A winner of the La Brea (G1) at the same distance vs. sophomore fillies on Dec. 26, Fun to Dream notched her fourth consecutive win and paid $3.00, $2.10 and $2.10.

Co-owned and bred by Connie Pageler and also bred by Bob Baffert out of the Maria’s Mon mare Lutess, Fun to Dream notched her fourth overall stakes win and her sixth victory from seven overall starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $546,590.

“She broke pretty good, but I couldn’t keep (up) with the pace in front of me, so she relaxed well behind horses,” said Hernandez, who doubled on the day and picked up his meet-leading ninth stakes win. “This filly is getting really good, and I felt like she was on the bridle. Around the three-eighths, I felt like I had a lot of horse. Last time turning for home, she exploded and passed everybody, and today she did the exact same thing.”

Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Awake At Midnyte, who also was second to the winner in the opening-day La Brea, was the second choice at 5-2 and paid $2.80 and $2.10 after finishing 2 1/4 lengths in front of Samurai Charm. Off at 12-1 with Flavien Prat, Samurai Charm, who forced the early pace along with Anacapa and Angel Nadeshiko, paid $3.40 to show.

Fractions for the Santa Monica were 22.81, 45.74 and 1:10.37.

It was the seventh victory in the race for Baffert, breaking his tie with D. Wayne Lukas for the most Santa Monica training wins. He won the last two years with Merneith.

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