Made for Magic became a graded stakes winner May 16 when she collared heavy favorite Wynning Ride by a half-length in the $150,000 Milady Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, partly spoiling an otherwise fabulous weekend for jockey Martin Garcia and trainer Bob Baffert.
Garcia and Baffert had returned from Baltimore where they teamed to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) a day earlier with Lookin At Lucky . They appeared to have a good encore in the making when 13-10 choice Wynning Ride overtook pacesetter Dance to My Tune in the stretch run of the 1 1/16-mile Milady.
But Made for Magic, who had chased the pace in fourth rounding the far turn for jockey Omar Berrio, engaged Wynning Ride on the outside past mid-stretch. She would eventually win the tussle, inching away gamely in the final strides under Berrio's left-handed stick for a half-length win at odds of 9-1.
The final time for the Milady, a race won in each of the past two years by Zenyatta, was 1:43.48 over the Cushion Track.
A.C. Avila, known as one of the craftier trainers in Southern California, picked up the win for owners L-Bo Racing and Michael W. Lamb. Avila has won six times with 12 starters at the Hollywood meet.
"She's a very good work horse, so I told Omar pretend that you're working her," Avila said after combining with Berrio for their first graded stakes since River Savage took the 2007 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III). "Don't send her, just let her sit, the way she likes to run. Don't ride somebody else's horse. In her last work (May 8 at Santa Anita), I told Omar to go 1:01 and she worked in hand :46 and :59 and kept going out in 1:11. She came back breathing like she didn't do anything."
Made for Magic, a 5-year-old daughter of Cape Canaveral , toiled mostly in the claiming ranks in Northern California last year after beginning her 33-race career in Washington. She had been unplaced in three prior graded stakes attempts since Avila claimed her for $16,000 at Golden Gate Fields last August.
Dance to My Tune, who would fade out of the money in the six-horse Milady, had the pace the way she wanted it, clipping off comfortable quarter-mile fractions of :24.39, :48.08, and 1:12.21 while being tracked by Joffe's Run and Wynning Ride. Joffe's Run lost steam on the final turn but Wynning Ride advanced off the rail to challenge Dance to My Tune in upper stretch. Wynning Ride got the lead near mid-stretch but failed to quicken as Made for Magic came to tackle after rallying three wide into the lane.
Garcia frantically urged Wynning Ride on through the drive, but Made for Magic ultimately proved too strong over the stubborn runner-up. Third Dawn, who made a sweeping move late after a slow start, loomed a danger under Joel Rosario but had to settle for third, a half-length behind the runner-up.
Made for Magic's eighth lifetime win was worth $90,000 and boosted her career earnings to $297,984. In 14 starts since being claimed, Made for Magic has produced four wins, three seconds, and a third.
She won the Las Madrinas Handicap at Fairplex during the summer and was coming off a third-place finish in the Santa Lucia Handicap at Santa Anita April 16 at the Milady distance. She was in tight at the seven-eighths pole in that race and made a late bid while beaten 1 3/4 lengths.
"Last time I had her too close to the lead, but today she was in behind horses and she finished strong," Berrio said.
Hyperion Bloodstock bred the winning bay mare in Kentucky. Made for Magic is out of the Exploit mare Only Seventeen.
Sent off as the second-longest shot on the board, Made for Magic carried 116 pounds and paid $21.60, $7.40, and $4.20. Arnold Zetcher's Wynning Ride, favored off a sharp sprint allowance victory at Santa Anita one month ago, returned $3.20 and $2.20 and completed a $58.40 exacta. Ike and Dawn Thrash's Third Dawn, the 117-pound highweight, was $2.60 to show.
“I don't know what happened, but she tried really, really hard," Garcia said of Wynning Ride. "She did everything that she could but maybe she was a little bit short. She just had one six-furlong race (since last August). Maybe she'll be better next time."
Miss Silver Brook ran fourth, followed by Dance to My Tune and Joffe's Run.