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Fiftyshadesofhay Can Make Amends in La Canada

After a troubled start in the Bayakoa, she'll face winner Broken Sword again Jan. 19.

Unable to overcome a poor break as the 11-10 favorite in December's Bayakoa Stakes (gr. II), Fiftyshadesofhay is out to turn the tables on the runaway winner of that race, Broken Sword, in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 19 at Santa Anita Park.

Fiftyshadesofhay, trained by Bob Baffert, was shuffled to the back of the pack after bobbling at the start in the Bayakoa Dec. 7 on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park. She was unable to make much headway in spite of pulling jockey Martin Garcia up the backstretch, and it wasn't until she got room on the outside in the stretch that she was able to gain any ground. That was far too late to catch Broken Sword, though Fiftyshadesofhay did manage to get second, beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

Whether she could have beaten the front-running Broken Sword, who went off at odds of nearly 8-1, with a better trip is debatable. But that's what Baffert intends to find out in the 1 1/16-mile La Canada, which is restricted to 4-year-old fillies. The race, which lured a field of seven, is the eighth on the Sunday card with a 4 p.m. PST scheduled post.

Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, Fiftyshadesofhay had an otherwise superb 2013 campaign. She posted victories in the Santa Ysabel (gr. III), the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II), and the Iowa Oaks (gr. III) while notching grade I placings in the Las Virgenes, Santa Anita Oaks, and the Alabama. The daughter of Pulpit earned $738,057 during the year. Mike Smith takes over for Garcia, who winds up on another Baffert entrant, Ondine.

Broken Sword, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, returned to her home base at Golden Gate Fields following the Bayakoa and shipped back down for the La Canada after working five furlongs handily on the Tapeta track Jan. 14. This will be her first start at Santa Anita. Leading rider Rafael Bejarano takes over for Joel Rosario Sunday.

"She worked Tuesday at Golden Gate, then shipped here, just like she did before she won the Bayakoa at Hollywood," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant. "She trains better up there."

Seven of Broken Sword's eight lifetime starts have come on synthetic surfaces or the turf, making her possibly vulnerable on the dirt. Her only start on dirt, however, produced an 11-length victory in her career debut at Pleasanton in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes in July 2012. The Bayakoa was her first graded stakes start so the Broken Vow  fillyowned by Mark Dedomenico, George Todaro, and Hollendorfer—could be a star in the making.

Both Baffert and Hollendorfer, tied atop the Santa Anita trainer standings heading into Jan. 16 with 11 wins apiece, have back-ups in case their main starters don't fire.

The "other Baffert" in the La Canada is Peachtree Stable’s Ondine. A Florida-bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro , she’s been idle since taking the 6 1/2-furlong Beverly J. Lewis Stakes at Barretts Sales & Racing at Fairplex Park Sept. 6. Her third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) June 22 stamps her a legitimate contender in the La Canada.

With three wins, Ondine has not been off the board in eight starts and she is 2-for-3 at the La Canada distance.

Hollendorfer will also be represented by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ California homebred Let Faith Arise, who has been away since running a close eighth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the hillside turf course Nov. 2. With four wins from seven starts sprinting, this is the Kafwain filly's initial try routing in her eighth career start. Corey Nakatani is aboard for the first time.

Trainer Jim Cassidy will saddle the multiple graded stakes-placed Oscar Party following a third-place finish in the Zia Park Oaks Nov. 27. Owned by Deron Pearson, the Kentucky-bred filly by Dixie Union finished ahead of Fiftyshadesofhay when second in the Indiana Oaks (gr. II) on a sloppy track at Indians Downs Oct. 5.

$200,000 La Canada Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 4YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Let Faith Arise (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, J Hollendorfer
2. Ondine (FL), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
3. Oscar Party (KY), J Talamo, 118, J M Cassidy
4. Fiftyshadesofhay (KY), M E Smith, 120, B Baffert
5. Broken Sword (KY), R Bejarano, 123, J Hollendorfer
6. Spellbound (KY), V Espinoza, 118, R E Mandella
7. Rathbaun (KY), T Baze, 123, P Miller