Baghdaria Surges to Indiana Oaks Triumph

Clinton and Susan Atkins' Baghdaria settled behind a four-horse duel on the front before making her bid for the lead and drawing clear at the wire to win the $402,800 Indiana Breeders Cup Oaks (gr. III) Friday night at Hoosier Park.

With Rafael Bejarano in the irons, the filly finished four lengths to the good to win the 12th running of the test for 3-year-old fillies. The winner covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.64.

Baghdaria and Bejarano drew the inside post in the scratch-shortened field of eight, with the rider positioning the Royal Academy sophomore behind a four-wide group of fillies that included Coolwind, Peak Maria's Way, Cryptoquip, and Maggie Slew. The foursome raced through the backstretch separated by no more than a length at any time. The second choice stayed along the rail biding her time.

Closing in on the quarter pole, Bejarano angled out the Tom Amoss pupil to challenge for the lead. Second behind new leader Cryptoquip at the top of the stretch, Baghdaria sprinted home to collect her third win in seven starts this season.

"I saw a lot of speed in the race. My goal was to try to stay behind the lead group and see what happens," Bejarano said afterward. "I wanted to follow (Cryptoquip). In the stretch, my horse was loaded."

The filly entered the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks after scratching out of the Arlington Oaks earlier this summer. In her last start, Baghdaria was eighth in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont.

"That was a trip where everything went wrong. It was just too hot, and the track was sloppy," Amoss said of the trip to New York. "Tonight, she not only lived up to expectations, but we're excited about her future. The owner said we had 400,000 good reasons to come here."

Baghdaria made her fourth start for Atkins, who purchased the filly from Bret Calhoun. Bred by Bentley Smith, she finished third in the Black Eyed Susan (gr. II) - her first start for the new owners. She added her second graded stakes victory the next time out, winning the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III). With the victory, Baghdaria added $237,076 to her bankroll, which now stands at $597,066.

The second choice paid $9.80, $5.20, and $3.80. Cryptoquip, with Robby Albarado aboard, returned $5.60 and $4.80. Southern Flu, ridden by Larry Melancon, was 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third, paying $8.60.

Then came Wild Fit, Peak Maria's Way, Ermine, Coolwind, and Maggie Slew.

Ermine, the 2-1 favorite under Calvin Borel, lagged at the back after breaking outward at the start and was never a factor.

Morning line favorite Miraculous Miss and Political Web scratched from the contest.

(Chart, Equibase)