The Thoroughbred Corporation's 3-year-old filly Atlantic Ocean is making her $1.9 million purchase price look better after winning the $110,900-added Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Sunday.
It was the second consecutive graded stakes win for the strapping daughter of Stormy Atlantic, who captured the grassy Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park Nov. 29.
Ridden by David Flores, who won the first three races on the Santa Anita Sunday card, Atlantic Ocean defeated Sea Jewel by three-quarters of a length.
Trained by Bob Baffert, The Thoroughbred Corp. bought her for a record price in the Barretts March 2-year-old sale.
Baffert won both major stakes at Santa Anita in the opening weekend of 2003 after also taking Saturday's $150,000 San Pasqual (gr. II) with Congaree.
Atlantic Ocean broke behind pacesetters Harbor Blues and Sea Jewel, who inherited the lead after a :23.38 opening quarter and :47.57 half-mile. Never far behind, Atlantic Ocean engaged Sea Jewel and jockey Patrick Valenzuela on the outside and pulled away with a powerful closing kick. Summer Wind Dancer closed well to be third.
The final time for the 1 1/16 mile was 1:43.25.
"She's so big and athletic, I think she's going to get better and better," said Baffert. "It takes her a while to get going.
"It's nice to know she can race on dirt and turf. She's getting worth her purchase price. There's a lot of good dirt races out there for 3-year-old fillies."
Sea Jewel was making her first starts since she finished fourth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Arlington Park. Atlantic Ocean was fifth in that race.
"(Sea Jewel) ran a hard race," said Valenzuela. "Seeing it was her first race since the Breeders' Cup, she deserved to get a little tired."
Alex Solis, aboard Summer Wind Dancer, said he dropped his whip.
"I dropped my stick at the eighth pole when I was trying to switch from my right hand to my left hand," he said. "I don't know if she would've won, but I think she'd have been second."
After racing poorly in her debut in June and finishing off the board in her second start in August, Atlantic Ocean for the fourth time in her last seven tries. The victory, worth $66,540 pushed her career earnings to $301,320. Out of the Seattle Slew dam Super Chef, Atlantic Ocean was bred in Florida by Arthur I. Appleton.
Baffert said he is pointing Atlantic Ocean for the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. i) on Mar. 8, also at 1 1/16 miles. She could tune up for that race in the $200,000, 1-mile Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 9.
Baffert's other top filly, Composure, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 and also trained by Baffert, has the Santa Anita Oaks on her schedule too.
Atlantic Ocean, the 3-2 favorite among the five betting interests, paid $5 $3.40 and $2.20. Sea Jewel returned $4.40 and $2.20. Summer Wind Dancer's show price was $2.10. The $2 exacta was $17.20.