BAYAKOA HANDICAP | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
Broken Sword, taking full advantage of big trouble for even-money favorite Fiftyshadesofhay on the first turn, led at every call to upset the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap Dec. 7 on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Making her first start in graded company against eight rival fillies and mares, 7-1 shot Broken Sword gave Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his third Bayakoa win in the past four years. The winning 3-year-old daughter of Broken Vow shipped in from Golden Gate Fields to take the victory for Hollendorfer and his partners Mark Dedomenico and George Todaro. Joel Rosario was the winning rider.
Broken Sword, winning by 4 ¼ lengths, was timed in 1:42.98 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.
Hollendorfer and his partners have been keeping firm hold on the Bayakoa in recent years. They won last year's renewal with Lady of Fifty, which Hollendorfer owned with Todaro, and in 2010 with Washington Bridge, which the trainer owned with Dedomenico.
"I ended up on an uncontested lead," Hollendorfer said. "I didn't think we'd be out there on an easy lead like that. I think [Fiftyshadesofhay] had some trouble on the break. That may have contributed to our win. When this filly broke her maiden, we thought she could be any kind of horse, then she didn't do what we wanted her to do right away. Now she is. Sometimes they just turn around."
Broken Sword, bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock out of the stakes winning New Zealand-bred mare Katana, by Volksraad, was a $20,000 purchase at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. The bay filly was coming off a 5 ½-length romp in a $25,000 allowance/optional claiming event going one mile on the Tapeta track at Golden Gate Nov. 10.
Breaking a bit outwardly, Broken Sword rushed up to get the lead in the short run to the clubhouse turn and opened a substantial advantage over 40-1 outsider Champagneandcaviar and Magic Union. Unlucky was Fiftyshadesofhay, who bobbled at the start and was quickly shuffled back in traffic to race next-to-last around the turn.
Broken Sword led by about five lengths and Rosario looked to give her a breather up the backstretch while posting sharp early fractions of :23.33 and :46.53. Fiftyshadesofhay, looking to recover from her poor start, found a seam up the backstretch and was making up good ground on the leader before finding more traffic under Martin Garcia. Meanwhile Champagneandcavier continued to chase Broken Sword as they reached the six-furlong mark in a swift 1:11.42. Still on her own as she reached the homestretch, Broken Sword drew off again as her challenger gave way and Warren's Veneda took up the futile chase.
"I thought I was going to be in front -- I knew she had speed," said Rosario after riding Broken Sword for the first time. "I tried to take the lead because I know she likes to run like that. I knew it was a tough race, but hopefully we had something left turning for home. She really did it easy. She was pinning her ears back and forth."
Fiftyshadesofhay, finally clear while on the outside in the lane, swept past Warren's Veneda and Joe Talamo by 5 ½ lengths in the drive, but never threatened to the winner. Warren's Veneda held third by 2 ¼ lengths in a widely spaced finish, followed by Champagneandcaviar, Curvy Cat, Spellbound, Magic Union, Charm the Maker, and Charlie Em.
"She just broke bad," Garcia said of the favorite. "She was a little nervous in the gate. The stumble just got me. All I could do was try to make my run, but it was too late. I don't know if we were going to beat the winner anyway. She was going pretty fast up there."
Broken Sword, who returned $17.80, $7.40, and $4.80 across the board, improved to three wins and three thirds from eight starts and and boosted her career earnings to $156,660. Fiftyshadesofhay, a three-time graded stakes winner this year for trainer Bob Baffert, paid $2.80 and $2.40. The exacta was worth $55.60. Warren's Veneda paid $3.20 to show.