Baffert Leaves Foes Crying After 7th Oak Leaf Win

Baffert Leaves Foes Crying After 7th Oak Leaf Win
Photo: Benoit
Cry and Catch Me gives Bob Baffert his seventh Oak Leaf win.
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Favored Cry and Catch Me gave trainer Bob Baffert his seventh win in the $244,000 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) in the past 11 years with a game nose victory over Izarra at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet Sept. 29.

Purchased privately by Nita Connelly's Stetson Land & Cattle after her debut in July, Cry and Catch Me has done everything right since being transferred to Baffert this summer. In her first start for her new connections she broke her maiden by more than six lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race on the Del Mar Polytrack Aug. 26. It was a big jump from there into a 1 1/16-mile grade I event, but the 2-year-old daughter of Street Cry proved up to the task.

Baffert said Cry and Catch Me would go on to the Grey Goose Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), if all goes well.

“It looks like she can go two turns now," Baffert said. "You never know until they do it, you know? I just wanted her to jump out there. She’s fit and she was ready. I’m glad I had her fit. I was worried about Ron McAnally’s filly (Izerra). She’s a good filly and I know she can go long.”

Ridden by Mike Smith, Cry and Catch Me seized the lead along the inside from 50-1 shot Gentle Audrey at the top of the stretch. She opened up by about a length but had to fight back when collared from the middle of the track by Izarra and Victor Espinoza. Izarra may have drawn even in the run for the wire but she could not get past Cry and Catch Me, who responded to strong left-handed urging by Smith to prevail in the final couple of strides. The winning time on the Cushion Track was 1:42 4/5.

“She trains like she’d like two turns, and the way she finished at Del Mar last time it looked like she would route," Smith said. "Today she was on the lead for the first time and she was comfortable there, but from the three-eighth’s pole home, she was looking around. She showed a lot of heart and I stayed busy on her to keep her focused. Down the road, I think she’ll be better off with a target.”

Cry and Catch Me was forwardly placed along the inside in the 10-horse field as several were fanned wide going into the clubhouse turn. The Golden Noodle led the opening quarter-mile in :23. Cry and Catch Me continued to vie on the front end with The Golden Noodle after a half-mile in :46 2/5. On the final turn The Golden Noodle dropped back and Cry and Catch Me, who led after six furlongs in 1:10 4/5, had to deal with Gentle Audrey, who drew even on the outside entering the lane. But Izarra closed best of all on the extreme outside for Espinoza to set up an exciting stretch run.

Runforthemoneybaby came on for third under Tyler Baze, 1 1/2 lengths behind Izarra, and Gentle Audrey held on fourth. Grade III winner Tasha's Miracle, the second choice, suffered a wide trip and tired in her first route effort after making a bid between horses coming off the final turn. She finished fifth.

Then came Sunday Geisha, Set Play, The Golden Noodle, Golden Doc A and P.S.U. Grad.

Baffert has dominated the Oak Leaf since 1997 when he began a string of four successive winners with Vivid Angel, Excellent Meeting, Chilukki and Notable Career. He also won Oak Tree's leading 2-year-old filly race with Composure (2002) and Diamond Omi (2005).

Cry and Catch Me debuted for trainer Craig Dollase with a second-place finish, 2 1/2 lengths behind Tasha's Miracle, in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race July 1 on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track. She now has two wins in three starts and earnings of $191,000. She earned $150,000 for the Oak Leaf win.

Hurstland Farm Inc. and William F. Kartozian bred the dark bay filly in Kentucky. Out of the Doc's Leader mare Please Sign In, she brought $150,000 as a yearling at Keeneland one year ago.

The winner paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.80. Izarra, coming off a third-place finish in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) for McAnally, returned $5.60 and $4.20, completing a $26 exacta. Runforthemoneybaby, a maiden winner trained by Jeff Mullins, was $9 to show.

Wild Baby Girl scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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