Baroness Thatcher, back in the Southern California barn of reinstated trainer Patrick Biancone following her purchase a month ago for $1.8 million, makes her next start in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park Dec. 7.
The 4-year-old filly is now owned by Tom Van Meter's Stock Place after her sale at the Keeneland November breeding stock auction. She is part of an evenly matched field of eight in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track event for fillies and mares.
Model, a distant second to Carriage Trail in the Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland this fall, carries top weight of 117 pounds in the Bayakoa.
Previously owned by Zayat Stables, Baroness Thatcher made nine starts for Biancone, including a win in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita in January 2007. The daughter of Johannesburg was transferred to the French-born trainer's assistant, Francois Parisel, for one start later that year, a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
At the time, Biancone agreed to a suspension that kept him from training until Oct. 31, 2008, after cobra venom was found in his Keeneland barn. Baroness Thatcher ended up with trainer Bill Mott, for whom she most recently won an allowance race at Keeneland Oct. 11, ending a 15-race losing streak.
The chestnut filly has three lifetime wins in 21 starts, 15 of those efforts coming against graded stakes company, while earning $531,889. Two of her victories were at the Bayakoa's 1 1/16-mile distance. Victor Espinoza rides Baroness Thatcher for the first time and they will break from post 4. They figure to be on or near the lead from the outset.
Model, a 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway trained by Neil Drysdale for owner Abergwaun Farm, is coming off her first stakes win, a 1 3/4-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile It's in the Air on Hollywood's main track Nov. 2. Prior to that, Model was a runner-up in the Spinster, finishing 7 3/4 lengths behind the romping Polytrack winner. The consistent bay filly has won four of 13 lifetime starts and has been out of the money just once in her career.
Michael Baze, who won last year's Bayakoa with Romance Is Diane, has the return engagement on Model, who has earned $383,536 in her career. Model starts from the rail.
Patricia Bozano's grade I winner Double Trouble returns to battle for trainer Bobby Frankel following a five-month layoff. The 5-year-old Brazilian-bred daughter of Wild Event has lost four races in a row since posting a 4 1/2-length triumph over three rivals in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita last February. Regular rider Rafael Bejarano has the call.
Graham Motion ships Lady Digby from Maryland. The Earle Mack homebred has enjoyed most of her success on the turf, including a victory in the All Along Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs June 21, but broke her maiden on Woodbine's Polytrack in 2006.
Off for nearly four months following a fifth-place showing in Saratoga's Diana (gr. IT), Lady Digby returned to run sixth on a yielding Chuchill Downs' grass course in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 15. The 4-year-old daughter of Grand Slam has won four of 14 starts with earnings of $320,386. Jose Valdivia Jr. takes over the mount.
The likely pacesetter Briecat brings back-to-back wins to the Bayakoa for owners David and Holly Wilson and trainer Vladimir Cerin, including a stakes win on grass at Turf Paradise in her last effort.
Irish-bred Wake Up Maggie, winner of Del Mar's Adoration Handicap Aug. 28 for hot trainer Julio Canani, and stakes winners Spenditallbaby and Bai and Bai, second and third, respectively, behind Model in the It's in the Air, complete a contentious line-up.
$150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:05 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Model (KY), 117, Michael C. Baze
2. Spenditallbaby (CA), 114, Mike E. Smith
3. Lady Digby (KY), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
4. Baroness Thatcher (KY), 116, Victor Espinoza
5. Double Trouble (BRZ), 115, Rafael Bejarano
6. Briecat (FL), 112, Jon K. Court
7. Wake Up Maggie (IRE), 115, Tyler Baze
8. Bai and Bai (CA), 116, Aaron T. Gryder