Behaving Badly, Victor Espinoza up, wins the Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Friday at Del Mar.

Behaving Badly, Victor Espinoza up, wins the Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Friday at Del Mar.


Baffert Sets Stakes Mark; Behaving Badly Rolls

(from Del Mar report)
Behaving Badly, the 3-5 favorite under jockey Victor Espinoza, provided trainer Bob Baffert with a record 75th stakes success at Del Mar Friday evening as she breezed to victory in the featured $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) for older fillies and mares.

Baffert had been tied with the late Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham atop Del Mar's list of stakes-winning conditioners entering the 2006 meeting.

"I can never put myself in the same category as Charlie Whittingham," Baffert said. "He's the greatest. I think I just had more chances than he did. In the old days they didn't have as many stakes. But it's still a huge accomplishment. It shows you how important the staff and the right clientele are. I've had a great staff over all the years. And I've had people buying these good horses and being at every sale."

Behaving Badly, a 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Pioneering, made it back-to-back wins in the 6 ½- furlong Rancho Bernardo 'Cap. She took command shortly after the break and never was seriously threatened in tallying by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:15.04. She won the stakes last summer in a time of 1:15.32.

She set a solid pace of :22 1/5 and :44 3/5 while taking a two-length lead into the stretch and finished willingly with a couple cracks of the whip from Espinoza.

"I wanted to make sure I got away from there and set the pace," Espinoza said. "I didn't want anything else to happen. And it all worked out just the way I hoped it would. At the top of the stretch I heard something coming to me, but I wasn't too worried. She was running good. I got a little busy on her the last sixteenth, but she was doing fine."

True and True, longest shot in the field of six at 21-1 and ridden by Tyler Baze, rallied handily to be second, a length in front of Allswellthatnswell and Isaias Enriquez.

Behaving Badly earned $120,000 for her owners Patti and Hal J. Earnhardt III, longtime clients of Baffert, with her ninth victory in a dozen starts. Her earnings now are $734,224.

"You never know where the good horses are going to come from," Baffert said. "It's one of those things where everything has to click together. Of all people, it would be Hal to help me get (the record). He's my longest client, probably 25 years. We had Indian Charlie, and we've had a lot of good luck and a lot of bad luck. Hal's the kind of guy who has ridden out the peaks and valleys."

As the prohibitive choice, Behaving Badly returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20. True and True returned $8.60 and $3.20. Allswellthatnswell was $3 to show.

Somethinaboutlaura, Proposed and Short Route completed the order.

(Chart, Equibase)