Baffert has two horses entered in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) on Jan. 4.

Baffert has two horses entered in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) on Jan. 4.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Three Oppose Crushed Velvet in Santa Ynez

Impressive debut maiden winner tackles Hollywood Starlet runner-up Taste Like Candy.

Just three sophomore fillies are set to oppose impressive first-out winner Crushed Velvet in the $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 4 at Santa Anita Park.

Trained by Bob Baffert for John Fort's Peachtree Stable, Crushed Velvet won her debut decisively Dec. 8 over a maiden special weight field at the Santa Ynez distance of 6 1/2 furlongs. She tallied in front-running fashion by 5 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:16.71 on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Crushed Velvet, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Malibu Moon  out of the winning Meadowlake mare Meadow Soprano, has had two works at Santa Anita since her maiden score, a half mile in :48 1/5 Dec. 18, and six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 Dec. 29.  She’ll be ridden back by Martin Garcia.

The filly's dam is out of Candytuft, who also produced two-time Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Midnight Lute . Fort went to $220,000 to land Crushed Velvet at the Fasig-Tipton summer yearling sale in 2012. The dark bay filly, bred by Spendthrift Farm, is the second winner from three to start out of Meadow Soprano, and will seek to become her first black-type winner.

Baffert will also send out Awesome Baby, a first-out maiden special weight winner going 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar Aug. 4. Kaleem Shah's daughter of Awesome Again  has done little in two starts against grade I company after her initial 4 3/4-length win, and was distanced in her most recent effort, the Chandelier Stakes (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles Sept. 28 at Santa Anita. The Santa Ynez will be her fourth start and Mike Smith will take call.

Taste Like Candy, runner-up to Streaming when well bet in the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) Dec. 7 at Hollywood Park, offers the most attractive alternative to Crushed Velvet. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the daughter of Candy Ride  was superb in her debut, a 6 1/2-length maiden special weight romp Oct. 20 going 5 1/2 furlongs. She will be ridden once again by Rafael Bejarano.             

Owned by Bad Boy Racing and Whizway Farms, Taste Like Candy has worked three times since the Starlet, her most recent a five-furlong drill at Santa Anita in 1:00 4/5 Dec. 28.

Uzziel, a maiden winner going six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields in her second start Nov. 23 for trainer William E. Morey, ships south to complete the field.

The Santa Ynez, race 2 on Santa Anita's Saturday card, is set for a 1 p.m. PST scheduled post. Later on the program is the $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

$200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II, Race 2, 1 p.m.), 3Yo Fillies, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Taste Like Candy (KY), R Bejarano, J Hollendorfer
2. Uzziel (CA), V Espinoza, W E Morey
3. Awesome Baby (KY), M E Smith, B Baffert
4. Crushed Velvet (KY), M Garcia, B Baffert
All assigned 119 pounds.