ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2012) – Ellafitz, the 5-year-old mare whom trainer Bob Baffert says is “getting better with age,” demonstrated her gritty resistance Saturday when turning back challenge after challenge as the front-running winner of Santa Anita’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
After 11 starts without a stakes victory, the bay daughter of Tiznow notched her third successive stakes win and second Grade II. But instead of running away from her competitors as she had done twice previously, Ellafitz dealt with them head-on Saturday while timed in 1:42.48.
First, Spirit Seeker took her run at the 4-5 favorite. She became discouraged. Next, third-choice Great Hot made a bid. She became discouraged. Finally, Miss Mittagong flung down the gauntlet. Little progress. Ellafitz and jockey Martin Garcia crossed the wire 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Miss Mittagong and defending champion Vision in Gold, the 3-1 second choice, who dead-heated for the place.