The promising filly Contested disposed of pacesetter Good Deed near mid-stretch and cruised to victory in the $110,000 Eight Belles (gr. III), her stakes debut for trainer Bob Baffert May 4 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
Owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, the 11-10 favorite Contested registered an impressive 4 3/4-length victory over Good Deed with Martin Garcia aboard. The Southern California-based daughter of Ghostzapper out of the Arch mare Gold Vault completed the seven-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies in a stakes record 1:21.29 on a fast track.
Making her second start of the year, Contested now has three consecutive victories after breaking her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths last October at Santa Anita Park. She opened her 2012 campaign with a 5 3/4-length triumph over allowance rivals going 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita April 15.
Contested was bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm president Seth Hancock's breeding operation, Cherry Valley Farm. The bay filly brought $110,000 at the Keeneland September 2010 yearling sale. She raced in the silks of Mike Pegram when the Bafferts forgot to bring their silks to Louisville.
“It was a nice win even though they didn’t have Jill’s colors on," Bob Baffert said. "They gave her the option of choosing some yellow and orange silks they had in the jock’s room and Mike Pegram’s silks. So she said, ‘Give me Mike’s silks, they’re pretty lucky.' ”
Good Deed took the early lead from Xunlei and Volcat and set a stiff pace for Corey Lanerie after Contested hopped at the start and raced mid-pack on the outside on the backstretch.
Contested quickly advanced into second as Good Deed clipped off an opening quarter-mile in :22.13 while opening up a 1 1/2-length advantage. Those two separated themselves from their six rivals on the turn for home after zipping four furlongs in :44.37. Contested challenged the leader leaving the turn.
Good Deed, winner of the Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn Park one month ago, battled courageously along the inside before giving way approaching the furlong pole. Contested drew off under steady right-handed encouragement from Garcia.
“I knew I had a lot speed with my horse, and I was in perfect position," Garcia said. "I was on the outside, and that gave me a lot of big chances to do good things when I asked her run."
Always Here Too closed belatedly to finish a distant third under Leandro Goncalves, 6 1/4 lengths lengths behind Good Deed. Livi Makenzie was fourth, followed by Xunlei, My Due Process, Small Kitchen, and Volcat.
Contested, whose only defeat came in a runner-up debut at Del Mar last September, ran her record to 3-for-4 with earnings of $144,754. The Eight Belles victory was worth $66,154.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Contested paid $4.20, $3, and $2.80 while topping a $14 exacta. Richard Bertram and Elaine Klein's Good Deed, a two-time stakes winner for trainer Steve Margolis, returned $3.60 and $3.20. Always Here Too paid $7.20 to show.