In what amounted to little more than a paid workout, Kaleem Shah’s highly-regarded 3-year-old filly May Day Rose handled a pair of rivals to win the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (gr. III) (VIDEO) Jan. 9 at Santa Anita Park.
The 1 1/16-mile race went to post with just three horses after a pair of scratches. The front-running May Day Rose took Bluegrass Chatter and Scarlet Starlet wire-to-wire to win by 1 1/4 lengths as the 1-20 favorite. The final time on Santa Anita’s dirt track was 1:42.81. Rafael Bejarano was in the irons.
“That’s her style. She wants to run on the lead and she got the job done,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I missed a work with her during the rain, so I was hoping her class would carry her, and it did today.”
May Day Rose, a daughter of Rockport Harbor, raced comfortably through splits of :23.44, :47.47, and 1:11.48. Scarlet Starlet stayed close to the pacesetter for most of the way while 9-1 Bluegrass Chatter raced a bit further back.
Bluegrass Chatter, who took second by a neck under Joel Rosario, gained ground in the final sixteenth but had to settle for place.
“She’s got a lot of natural speed and we made the lead pretty easy,” Bejarano said. “I wanted to stay quiet on her and get her to relax early and she did. Bob said that he missed a work with her, and she got a little tired the last part. I usually don’t do it when I know we’re going to win, but I hit her just a couple times to keep going.”
Baffert said he expects the speedy filly to again be on the lead for her next race, which could be the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. II) at one mile Feb. 5.
“Watching her today, I think she’s the kind of filly that probably wants to be let run a little bit earlier,” Baffert said. “She’s the kind of filly that will take her speed and go :46 and change and keep going. She’s more of a free-running spirit. It was a good race for her, a good workout for her.”
May Day Rose won two of four starts as a juvenile, including the Sharp Cat Stakes Nov. 7 at Hollywood Park. She was fourth in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) to close out her season Dec. 11. This was her first start on dirt.
Bridlewood Farm bred the winner in Florida. She is out of the Pine Bluff mare May Day Bluff and sold for $220,000 at the OBS June 2-year-olds and horses of racing age sale. She has now earned $184,555.
May Day Rose paid $2.10 to win. There was no place or show betting. The exacta (4-1) paid $1.50 for $1.