SUNLAND PARK OAKS | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | 1 1/16 MILES
Trainer Bob Baffert grabbed his fifth win in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks when short-price favorite Midnight Lucky left the field behind on the far turn en route to an eight-length win March 24 in New Mexico.
The final time, 1:41.06, was a track record for 1 1/16 miles at Sunland.
Midnight Lucky, a 3-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute racing for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, was ridden to victory by an icy Rafael Bejarano, who sat still as a statue as Midnight Lucky cruised through the homestretch.
Baffert has dominated the Sunland Park Oaks, winning the 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012 renewals with Tough Tiz's Sis, Gabby's Golden Gal, Plum Pretty, and Princess Arabella, respectively. Plum Pretty went on to win the 2011 Kentucky Oaks, which will no doubt be Midnight Lucky's immediate goal.
The Sunland Park Oaks is worth 50 qualifying points for entry to the Kentucky Oaks should that May 3 race at Churchill Downs be oversubscribed.
Midnight Lucky was an impressive seven-length debut winner at Santa Anita Park Feb. 16, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.25, for which she earned a 100 Beyer figure.
The gray/roan filly, bred in Kentucky by C. Kidder, J.K. Kidder, and Linda Griggs from the Citidancer mare Citiview, was a $220,000 purchase as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale in August 2011.
The 3-10 favorite in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies, Midnight Lucky was prominent from the start, pressing pacesetter Majestic River from second. Majestic River, ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, was clocked through a half-mile in :46.44 and six furlongs in 1:09.95 as Midnight Lucky forged a narrow advantage with Unusual Way and Canticle also moving into contention.
But there was no catching Midnight Lucky, who took command without being asked by Bejarano coming out of the final turn. The stretch run was no contest as Midnight Lucky opened up by five lengths at mid-stretch and continued to pour it on.
Unusual Way, another Southern California shipper ridden by Edwin Maldonado, took second by 4 1/2 lengths over the late arriving Countess Curlin and Luis Contreras. Infinitely, Fraudulentfootnote, Canticle, Majestic River, and Shesatopattraction completed the order in the strung-out field.
Midnight Lucky, who earned $120,000 for the victory, paid $2.60, 2.20, and $2.10 while keying a $10.20 exacta. Unusual Way returned $4.60 and $3, while Countess Curlin was $3 to show.