INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 4, 2011)—Ellafitz was ready to roll after a three month layoff, easily taking the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (video) Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Able to make the lead immediately without pressure, the 4-year-old Tiznow filly out of the Dixieland Band mare Skat Girl kicked away in the final furlong to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
The win in the Grade II was the first in a stakes of any kind for Ellafitz, who is owned by D&E Racing and trained by Bob Baffert. Martin Garcia rode the 9-2 shot, who completed the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:42.69.
Miss Mittagong, a 10-1 outsider making her graded debut for trainer Ben Cecil, gained second, three-quarters of a length in front of 7-2 second choice Bauble Queen.
Seeking to improve to 2-for-2 over the Hollywood Park main track, Bauble Queen was ridden by Martin Pedroza, who replaced Rafael Bejarano.
Tied for second with Garcia in the jockey standings at the Autumm meet, Bejarano was taken to nearby Centinela Hospital Medical Center for precautionary x-rays on his right foot. Bejarano took off his final three mounts. He reported discomfort after being involved in an incident in the fifth race where he lost his irons while aboard Uzziah, who finished last in the one mile turf event.
Ellafitz’s victory was her fourth in 12 starts and increased her earnings to $230,857. She paid $11.80, $6.60 and $5. Miss Mittagong returned $8.80 and $4.80. Bauble Queen’s show price was $3.20.
Love Theway Youare finished fourth, then came 8-5 favorite City to City, defending champion Washington Bridge and Champagne d’Oro.
“The owner’s name is Ella (Sivage) and I told her there’s a horse we need to buy and she loved this horse because her name was Ellafitz,’’ said Baffert. “We paid in the low six figures for her.
“I had been trying to find an allowance race for her, but it wouldn’t fill. Then she worked (seven furlongs in 1:24 Nov. 28 at Santa Anita) and I said, “You know what, I’m going to run her in the Bayakoa if she’s doing that well. I think this race may have been her best by far.’’
The private purchase of Ellafitz was made after she broke her maiden versus $62,500 claimers in her Nov. 4, 2009 debut at Woodbine.
Earlier in the day, Mizdirection was successful in her return to California, toying with four rivals in a $52,000 optional claimer.
Making her first start since finishing fourth as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite in the Grade II Raven Run Oct. 22 at Keeneland, Mizdirection sat just off pacesetter Sleep Tight, then took charge early in the stretch under jockey Garrett Gomez and won by 2 ¾ lengths.
The win was the third in seven starts for the 3-year-old Mizzen Mast filly out of the Clever Trick mare Deceptive and pushed her earnings to $195,711. She’s trained by Mike Puype for a partnership that includes Tom Lenner, Alan Peterson, Robert Strauss and radio and television personality Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC.
Trainer Jeff Bonde won three times Sunday, scoring with Call Me Kelly in the first, Graeme Crackerjack in the fourth and Izzy Rules in the seventh.
When racing resumes Wednesday, there will be a carryover of $39,534 in the Super High 5. Is offered daily in the final race. Post time for the eight race program is 12:30 p.m.
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