A day that began with trainer Bob Baffert losing his brilliant 2-year-old colt What a Song in a fatal training injury ended with his undefeated filly Behaving Badly capturing the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) Friday night at Del Mar.Making her stakes debut, the 9-5 favorite -- ridden by Victor Espinoza -- made it three-for-three in her brief career with an impressive 1 1/4-length triumph in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. It was her stakes debut."I brought her in (to Santa Anita) after all the rain was gone to get her ready for Del Mar," said Baffert of his 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Pioneering-Timeleighness (Sir Raleigh). "She's quite a filly. She had to really work at it today, jumping up into this kind of race. Victor rode her with a lot of confidence."
On the injury and euthanizing of What a Song after the colt broke an ankle Friday morning, Baffert noted, "It's part of horse racing you never really get used to. These horses are like our children, so when something happens like that it's pretty devastating for everybody involved. When it's unexpected like that, it makes it worse."Discussing the accident earlier on TVG, Baffert was unable to complete his interview, walking away in tears.What a Song, a $1.9 million colt owned by Robert and Beverly Lewis, won the Best Pal (gr. II) at Del Mar Sunday for his second graded stakes win in a three-race career.
Behaving Badly, owned by Patti and Hal J. Earnhardt III, put away pacesetting longshot Dee Dee's Diner (:21 4/5, :44 1/5), Kent Desormeaux riding, in upper stretch and then held off the fast-closing Freakin Streakin to win in a fast 1:15.32 on the main track. "(Desormeaux) tried to squeeze me over by the half-mile pole, but I didn't want to have to stop my filly so I backed out of there," Espinoza said. "Then when I went around him it was all over. She was a running horse today. She's a really nice filly and she's improving every time." Behaving Badly returned $5.80, $3.60, and $3 while earning $90,000, pushing her bankroll to $153,000.
Freakin Streakin ($6, $4.80), with Corey Nakatani aboard, defeated a fading Dee Dee's Diner ($5) for the runner-up spot by a length, with Mini Skirt, who broke through the gate prior to the start, finishing fourth in the field of eighth. Freakin Streakin had a bad break or it might have been closer, Nakatani said.
"She broke hard and stumbled and it cost us big time," the jockey said. "So I called an audible and let her come running late. She was pouring it on, but it was too late. I think she may have been best." Baffert's other starter, Resplendency, was well backed at 5-2 under Patrick Valenzuela, but faltered to be seventh. The third choice Puxa Saco, with Mike Smith aboard, trailed the field after a half-mile and showed little in the stretch to finish sixth.
Behaving Badly provided Espinoza with his third success of the afternoon as he moved to the top of the jockey standings ahead of Garrett Gomez, 32-30. (Chart, Equibase)