Diamond Omi held off a heavily favored Wild Fit in a stretch duel to win the $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds by three quarters of a length Saturday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Ridden by David Flores, Diamond Omi covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.57. The 2-year-old filly by Giant's Causeway
is trained by Bob Baffert and paid $19.40, $4.40, and $2.10. Wild Fit, the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) winner in her last start, returned $2.20 and $2.10 as the 1-2 betting favorite, while Golden Silk finished third and paid $2.10.
Baffert, who won his sixth Oak Leaf, had been high on Diamond Omi all summer, but she didn't win her first race until stretched out to a mile distance at Del Mar on closing day of the meeting Sept. 7. She's now won two of four starts for owner Donald R. Dizney.
Barnett Enterprises bred the winner, who is out of the Fappiano mare Hum Along, in Kentucky. She was a $190,000 Fasig-Tipton sale in August 2004.
The time wasn't impressive, Baffert admitted.
"She didn't run very fast today, but she keeps winning - that's all that matters," he said. Asked about a possible try in the Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 29 at Belmont Park, the trainer responded, "I don't know yet. I don't know if she's going to handle one turn. She's more effective at two turns, but I don't know yet."
Flores guided Diamond Omi, who broke from the rail, to the front along the inside.
"When I got through on the three-eighths, she got the lead but she wanted to hang a little bit," Flores said. "She made me work hard, that was one thing about her. If I give up a little bit, she probably gets beat. But I felt like every time I asked her, she was responding and she was trying.
"If I would have waited and tried to go around, I never would have got there. Hopefully, this race will help her, and she can improve from here. We see now that she can run close to the pace. She doesn't have to be on the lead."
Alex Solis said Wild Fit simply tired in her first try around two turns.
"She ran hard, she just got a little tired. She was a little fresh on me in the first part, but she gave it her best. It'll be a different story next time."
Trainer Jeff Mullins said he was undecided on the Breeders' Cup for Wild Fit, who had won her debut in a maiden special weight and the Debutante, both at Del Mar, in the space of 13 days in August.
Fractions for the race Saturday were :23 1/5, :47 and 1:12
Evening Escort ran fourth, followed by Indy Miss, Acceleration, and Madre May.