Robert and Beverly Lewis' Inspiring successfully stepped into graded stakes company in her second start, winning the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar Saturday while leading all the way with David Flores aboard.
Trained by Bob Baffert, the chestnut daughter of Golden Missile
from the graded stakes-winning mare Arches of Gold (Strike Gold) completed the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento in a slow time of 1:18 1/5.
Flores won his fourth race on the Del Mar card Saturday in the Sorrento.
Firmly in command on the turn after completing fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 4/5, Inspiring, the 4-5 choice in the field of eight, was challenged in the stretch by Souvenir Gift and Mike Smith. Flores gave her a half-dozen cracks of the right-handed whip in mid-stretch and Inspiring responded to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
"I kept busy on her right to the end," Flores said. "She was waiting on horses. I said: 'No, no, mama. You've got to keep going.' Actually, that's a good thing from a young filly. You like to see them be competitive.
"When Mike (Smith on Souvenir Gift) was up inside me on the backside, my filly was right on it. She got right in the bit. But then when he (Smith) dropped back on the turn and my filly couldn't see anyone next to her, she started to ease up. But, like I said, I think it is a great sign that she wants competition. It means she won't be afraid to go into any battle."
Baffert admitted he was concerned about the early energy expended by Inspired.
"I was a little worried there for a while. I told David if he broke 22, we'd lose. And when I saw 21 and change and 44 for the half-mile, I was worried. But this is a really nice filly. Both of those fillies (runner-up Souvenir Gift) are nice. My filly's a little lazy but she has a good mind."
The stakes win was the second of the meet for Bob Baffert and his 68th overall at Del Mar, tying him for second place on the all-time Del Mar stakes-winning list with Ron McAnally. It was Baffert's fifth victory in the Sorrento.
Souvenir Gift was a clear second. Hello Lucky emerged from the pack in the closing stages to finish third, five lengths behind the winner. Crypto's Wild, Wise Investor, Timeintown, Starleena and Excusabull completed the order.
A $450,000 Keeneland yearling sale in September, Inspiring romped in her five-furlong maiden debut by four lengths as the 3-10 choice at Hollywood Park July 5.
Inspiring didn't break well that day. She was much quicker out of the gate this time, outrunning Souvenir gift, Excusabull, Timeintown and Hello Lucky while four wide for the early lead. She was in front down the backstretch with Souvenir Gift tracking on her inside, eventually widening her advantage on the turn.
She earned $90,000 for her victory Saturday.
Souvenir Gift was coming off a win in the six-furlong Landaluce (gr. III) at Hollywood Park on the same day Inspiring debuted. She was undefeated in three starts.
"She was nervous -- way too hot," Smith said. "She was just too cranked up. I tried to get her to back off, to take a breather on the turn. But she wasn't having it."
The winner paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.40. Souvenir Gift, the 3-2 second choice, returned $2.40 and $2.40. Hello Lucky's show was $4.80. The exacta was worth $7.