Internallyflawless, making her second start of the year for trainer Bob Baffert, took the lead into the stretch and held off challenges from heavy favorite Well Monied and outsider Nan to win the $350,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) (VIDEO) on turf Aug. 22.
Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Charles Fipke's homebred daughter of Giant's Causeway had a dream trip on the outside of pacesetter Donttellmewhatodo. After taking the lead, she got first run on both Well Monied, who flattened out in the stretch run, and Nan, who fought on relentlessly along the inside to finish a half-length behind the winner. Well Monied, who made a big five-wide move from the back of the field on the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-old fillies, settled for third. The winning time was 1:49.46 on firm going.
Internallyflawless earned her first stakes win and her second victory overall in six starts. She finished a close second to Habaya in the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park last fall before going to the sidelines after a ninth-place finish in the Blue Norther Stakes Dec. 28.
She returned a much more robust filly, and would need just one start to get on top of her game. Internallyflawless returned to action in the one-mile San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar Aug. 1, falling far back and making a big run before tiring late to finish fourth, beaten by 1 1/4 lengths by Del Mar Oaks rival Starlarks.
"We didn't push on her too hard the other day (San Clemente August 1)," Gomez said after his second Del Mar Oaks win (the fist was aboard Golden Apples in 2001). "She was coming off that layoff and we let her ease back into it.
"I was hoping she would jump out of there today and put me in the right spot. I wanted her to help me and she did. I could tell the way the race was unfolding that it was just right. I had to come out with her maybe a little earlier than I wanted to, but it worked out OK. I got a jump and she did the rest. She's a nice filly."
Starlarks, expected to vie on the early lead, was never a factor this time as the supplemental starter Donttellmewhatodo went to the front from her far outside post and opened up a comfortable 4 1/2-length lead on Internallyflawless, who left from the rail. Quarter-mile fractions were on the soft side -- :23.94, :49.31 and 1:14.64 -- but as they made their way around the final turn, Internallyflawless quickly sliced the advantage while splitting rivals.
The chestnut took the field into the stretch as Dreamalong and the American Oaks runner-up Well Monied, ridden by Joel Rosario, brought pressure from the outside. Internallyflawless was able to repel them both as they made their way down the lane, and she dug deep to hold the 30-1 shot Nan, with Victor Espinoza aboard, safe in the final sixteenth of a mile.
"Chuck Fipke has been very patient with this filly, said Baffert, who previously won the Del Mar Oaks with Tout Charmant in 1999. "He let me bring her along the way I thought she should be trained, and she rewarded us with a grade I win.
"This filly has always had a lot of talent. Garrett was the difference today. He gave her a perfect ride. He had her in good position all the way and when the rest of the field started to panic at the three-eighths pole he stayed with the plan and then got the jump on the rest of them."
Nan, a maiden winner, finished one length in front of the grade II victress Well Monied, who had been idle since her runner-up effort to Gozzip Girl in the American Oaks July 5.
"I had no choice but to go down inside and I wished I could have gone wide," Espinoza said of his trip on Nan. "She just goes better out there. She gets a little intimidated down inside and I could sense some of that today. But she ran good."
Well Monied was a head in front of Hameildaeme, who closed well to nip Dreamalong by a head for fourth. Then came the Paddy Gallagher-trained duo of Starlarks and Lexlenos, Strawberry Tart, Hermione's Magic and Donttellmewhatodo.
"I could tell they were going too slow," Rosario said of his decision to make an early run on the outside with Well Monied. "I felt I had to go up there and get my filly in the race. She did get up there and she kept on going. She ran well. The pair in front of me didn't stop. They ran fast to the finish."
Internallyflawless, who is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Tapatina, earned $210,000 for the win, boosting her career bankroll to $267,400. She broke her maiden on the Santa Anita turf going one mile last Sept. 28.
Baffert said he would point Internallyflawless toward the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.
Sent off as the fourth choice, she paid $15.80, $8.20 and $4.80,. Nan, who ran eighth in the San Clemente in her most recent try for trainer Craig Dollase, returned $21 and $8.40 while completing a $2 exacta worth $287.20. Well Monied, the 11-10 choice, was $2.60 to show.