AT ODDS OF 1-9, BAFFERT, BEJARANO & MAY DAY ROSE GET THE JOB DONE IN SUNDAY’S GRADE III SANTA YSABEL STAKES

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 9, 2011) – Trainer Bob Baffert beseeched jockey Rafael Bejarano to put his “one-dimensional” filly May Day Rose on the lead in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes, and once he did, the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita was pretty much over.

The field for the 44th running of Santa Ysabel had been pared to three starters with the late scratches of Zazu and Plum Pretty, which sent the even-money morning line on May Day Rose tumbling to 1/9 at post time.

May Day Rose was hustled to the front and never looked back while crossing the line in 1:42.81. But it wasn’t quite as easy as the scenario might have implied.

After responding to three vigorous whacks by Bejarano, Kaleem Shah’s $220,000 purchase gamely withstood steadily closing Bluegrass Chatter by 1 ¼ lengths with Scarlet Starlet another neck back after pressing the early pace.

Baffert had been disappointed that May Day Rose had not been sent to the lead in Hollywood Park’s Grade I Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 11. The Florida-bred daughter of Rockport Harbor checked in fourth after pressing the early leader. “She’s got to be on the lead,” Baffert said later. “That’s her style, and I’m not going to change it.”

May Day Rose was on top before the Santa Ysabel was barely underway. “The rider has her under a stranglehold,” said track announcer Trevor Denman after early fractions of 23.44 and 47.47.

But while May Day Rose remained in control through additional splits of 1:11.48 and 1:36.06, she wasn’t quite as dominant as her odds would have suggested.

“She’s got a lot of natural speed and we made the lead pretty easy,” Bejarano said afterward. “I wanted to stay quiet on her and get her to relax early, and she did. Bob (Baffert) said that he missed a work with her, and she got a little tired the last part. I usually don’t do it when I know we’re going to win, but I hit her just a couple of times to keep her going.”

“I missed a work with her during the rain,” said Baffert, “so I was hoping her class would carry her, and it did today. Watching her today, I think she’s the kind of filly that probably wants to be let run a little bit earlier. She’s the kind of filly that will take her speed and go 46-and-change and keep going. She’s more of a free-running spirit. It was a good race for her, a good workout for her.”

With no place or show wagering, there was a minus win pool of $18,704.33. The winning mutuel was $2.10. The winner’s share of $60,000 increased the career earnings of May Day Rose to $184,555 from a 3-1-0 record in five starts. Baffert said he would consider the Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 5 for her next start.

Following a three-day break, racing will resume on Thursday at Santa Anita with an eight-race card that gets underway at 1 p.m.

-30-