Awesome Baby Wins Sunland Oaks With Authority
Kaleem Shah's Awesome Baby grabbed the lead at the start and cruised unchallenged to a clear win in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks (VIDEO) March 23.
The Awesome Again filly is perfect in three career starts this season following victories in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 4 and Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. II) March 1 for trainer Bob Baffert. She leapt to the top of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) leaderboard with 110 points after earning 50 in the listed Sunland Park Oaks.
Awesome Baby is Baffert's fourth straight winner and sixth overall in the 1 1/16 mile Sunland Park Oaks. He saddled winners Tough Tiz's Sis in 2007 and Gabby's Golden Gal in 2009 followed with respective victories from 2011-13 with Plum Pretty, Midnight Lucky, and Princess Arabella.
Plum Pretty romped by 25 lengths in the 2011 Sunland Park Oaks and went on to capture the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
Starting from post 4 as the overwhelming favorite in the five-horse field, Awesome Baby sprinted to the lead out of the gate and maintained 1 1/2-length advantage through the early splits with Mike Smith aboard.
She ticked off quick fractions of :22.81, :45.87, and 1:10.02 through six furlong before completing a mile in 1:36.78. Drawing off the stretch under a hand ride, she coasted to a dominant 4 1/4-length triumph in 1:43.80.
Early on, Empress of Midway, ridden by John Velazquez, chased Awesome Baby from second and wound up in a dead heat for second with Lucky for You and Javier Castellano.
Awesome Baby won for the fourth time in six career starts and boosted her lifetime bankroll to $354,250 with the $124,000 winner's share of the Sunland Park Oaks purse.
The dark bay or brown filly was bred in Kentucky by Nicholas and Debbie Sibilio out of the Running Stag mare Miss Attractive. Baffert picked her out of the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale for Shah for $220,000.
The Sibilios purchased Miss Attractive for $50,000 from the Adena Springs consignment at the 2010 Keeneland November mixed sale while she was carrying Awesome Baby, who is one of four winners from as many starters for her dam.
Awesome Baby returned $3, $2.10 and $2.10. Lucky for You brought $2.10 and $2.10, and Empress of Midway paid $2.20 and $2.40.
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