Caffe Latte rallied through the stretch down the center of the Del Mar turf course to win Saturday's $400,000 Ramona Handicap (gr. IT) by 1 1/4 lengths over Tout Charmant. The Stonerside Stable's 4-year-old filly earned her first grade I stakes win by completing the 1 1/8 miles in stakes record time 1:47.16 -- just 2/5 of a second off the course record -- over firm turf. The win is the 11th stakes win on the meet for trainer Bob Baffert, breaking the record of 10 he set in 1998 and equaling last year. Baffert also saddled last year's Ramona winner Tuzla.
Sweet Life led the field early while setting fractions of :47.24 and 1:11.30 with Tout Charmant just behind. Entering the stretch, Sweet Life was still on the lead as Tout Charmant pulled alongside and raced to the lead, with Alexine threatening in third. Under Brice Blanc, Caffe Latte raced four wide into the stretch and swept by Tout Charmant in the final 1/16 of a mile en route to the victory. Tout Charmant finished second, 3/4 lengths ahead of Alexine. Miss of Wales, Sweet Life, Bordelaise, and Keemoon completed the order of finish.
"I just took her wide today and kept her clear," said Blanc. "A horse was stopping in front of me and I didn't want to get into any trouble. I just took her out and let her run. She took care of the rest."
Caffe Latte earned $240,000 for the win, her fifth in 12 career starts. In April, she won the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT), finishing 3/4 lengths ahead of Happyanunoit. She raced in North America four times as a 3-year-old while trained by Julio Canani, finishing second against older horses in the Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT), and fourth -- beaten by a length -- in the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mares Turf (gr. IT). Caffe Latte (Seattle Danceer--Debbie's Next, by Arctic Tern) was bred in Ireland by Deln Ltd.
Due to common ownership, Caffe Latte and Tout Charmant ran as a coupled entry and were sent off as the 13-10 favorite. The winner returned $4.60, $4.40, and $2.20. The $1 exacta, completed by Alexine paid $6.20.
"The whole key to this filly is that she needed the prep, but the real key was Brice Blanc," said Baffert. "I believe he's one of the best turf riders around. He sits back and stays cool." (Chart, Equibase