In her first start over the Woodbine turf course since she won the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) as a 2-year-old in 2009, Bay to Bay ran away at 6-1 odds in the $307,887 Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) (VIDEO) over yielding ground June 4.
Leading Woodbine rider Luis Contreras was aboard the 4-year-old daughter of Sligo Bay for owner Robert Smithen and trainer Brian Lynch. Bay to Bay defeated 7-5 favorite Never Retreat by a comfortable two lengths and completed the one-mile test of eight older fillies and mares over the soggy going in 1:36.48.
Adena Springs bred Bay to Bay in Florida. The bay filly is out of Bala, by With Approval.
“We love it here and not having to ship is a great thing,” said owner Smithen. “It was wonderful. But I have to really give all the credit to Brian Lynch. He did a phenomenal job. You couldn’t ask for a horse to be in better condition than she was. This was a serious field. These were real grade 2 horses and she beat them kind of nicely."
On the sidelines for seven months before returning in March, Bay to Bay won in her third start back. She was coming off a runner-up effort to Tapitsfly in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming/allowance event on the Gulfstream Park turf two months ago.
Placed second soon after the Nassau break by Contreras, who was aboard Bay to Bay for the first time, the filly tracked pacesetting Woolly Bear through opening quarter-mile fractions of :24.62 and :48.30 before taking the lead.
Bay to Bay led Woolly Bear by a head while completing six furlongs in 1:11.95 and inched clear in the lane. Never Retreat, never far back in third for Eduardo Perez, tried to make a race of it but could not keep up with the winner, who led by 2 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch and finished willingly while under encouragement.
“Luckily enough, he’d (Contreras) worked the filly after we brought her back up from Florida,” said Lynch. “I didn’t really tell him that much. There was a little bit of speed in there and today; I imagined you wouldn’t want to be too far away. We kept her a little bit fresh hoping she’d put herself into the race a little more. It’s great when it goes to plan and it did today."
Lynch said he would like to try a little more ground with Bay to Bay.
“We’ll put her through the fillies and mares program up here, keep our fingers crossed that she might be an E.P. Taylor (Can-IT) filly.”
The $1 million E.P. Taylor, at 1 1/4 miles on turf, is Oct. 16.
Never Retreat, the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) winner at Keeneland this spring, settled for second, a half-length in front of the onrushing 26-1 shot Valli With a Vow.
Oregon Lady, one of three Irish-bred entrants in the field for trainer Roger Attfield, finished ahead of stablemates Miss Kellerand Mekong Melody while fourth.
Bay to Bay, a $35,000 buy at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, won for the fourth time in 11 starts. Her record also includes four seconds and a third. She began her career at Woodbine, where she broke her maiden on Polytrack in her second start. Bay to Bay won the grassy Natalma in her next race in September 2009, then ran second when switched back to Polytrack for the Mazarine Stakes (Can-III) to conclude her 2-year-old campaign the following month.
Her lone win in an abbreviated sophomore campaign came in Arlington Park's American One Thousand Guineas on a turf course rated "good." Her season ended with a ninth-place finish in the Lake George Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga July 28.
Bay to Bay, who started the current year with a fifth-place finish in the Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, earned $183,996 for the Nassau victory to boost her career total to $528,773.
The winner carried 118 pounds and paid $15.10, $6.30, and $4.60. Never Retreat, the 122-pound co-high weight, returned $3.40 and $2.80 and rounded out a $46.70 exacta. Valli With a Vow paid $8.50 to show.
Oregon Lady was followed by Forest Uproar, Miss Keller, Woolly Bear, and Mekong Melody. Stormy Illusion was scratched by the stewards.