ON SUNSHINE MILLIONS DAY AT SANTA ANITA
ARCADIA, Calif. _ Teddy's Promise won the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes by three lengths at Santa Anita on Saturday, a year after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 race.
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 five.
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 place.''