Jockey Tyler Baze, in his first race since breaking the little finger on his left hand two weeks ago, guided heavily favored Carlsbad to a track-record victory in the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Del Mar Sept. 4.
With his injured finger heavily taped, Baze got the quick 3-year-old filly to sit just off the outside of the early leader Moon de French through a moderate pace, then seized the lead with three furlongs left to run. Carlsbad took a clear advantage into the homestretch and drew off easily under good handling to win by four lengths over Lady Lumberjack in a Polytrack record time of 1:14.93 for 6 1/ 2 furlongs. The former mark, 1:15.17, was established last year by Dearest Trickski, in last year's Rancho Bernardo.
Baze broke the pinky on his left hand in an incident in warm-ups prior to entering the starting gate for the last race on Aug. 22.
"So sweet. I'd say this is probably my sweetest moment in racing," Baze said. "To come back with one like her as my first mount -- and to win a stake and set a track record -- it doesn't get much better. I'm full of emotions right now. I'm really touched. This is so special.
"She was goin' so easy early. But she can do that. She's a Ferrari. A guy can't help but like riding a horse like her."
Trained by Jeff Mullins for owner Dennis Weir, the Arizona homebred Carlsbad continues to impress, earning her seventh lifetime victory in nine starts. The short but powerful daughter of Rocky Bar gained an additional distinction by winning the Rancho Bernardo, which is a "Win and You're In' challenge race for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6. Carlsbad, who is out of the Pine Bluff mare Kits Peak, is not nominated though Mullins expressed hope that the filly's owner would put up the supplemental money to enter her.
Carlsbad won the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) two starts back when she held off Lady Lumberjack by a half-length. In her last start prior to the Rancho Bernardo, Mullins tried her on the turf at one mile in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. II), but the dark bay filly faded to fifth after setting the pace. Back to the sprint distance she prefers, Carlsbad earned $120,000 for the Rancho Bernardo victory and has banked $387,126 in her brief career.
"We've been so confident in this filly," Mullins said. "When you have a stone cold sprinter and you move back from a turf route, it's a good thing. She didn't have to have the lead and Tyler was able to get her to turn it down early, get her to settle, and then get her to turn it on big when he asked her."
Getting a break at the weights in her first race against older fillies and mares, Carlsbad carried 115 pounds and paid $4.80, $3.40, and $2.60. Lady Lumberjack, who placed second with jockey Michael Baze by 2 1/2 lengths, returned $4.80 and $3.80 while completing a $2 exacta worth $21.40. The 39-1 shot Golden Doc A and Alonso Quinonez, rallied from eighth to get third and was $10.40 to show.
It was one length to Ashley's Kitty in fourth. She was followed closely by She's Cheeky and Evita Argentina, the late-running 2-1 second choice. Then came So Long Sonoma, Moon de French, and Stolen Heart. The quarter-mile fractions were :22.99 and :45.42.