BAYAKOA HANDICAP | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
Lady of Fifty provided some early shenanigans in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Bayakoa at Hollywood Park but came running in the stretch to be 3 1/4 lengths the best under jockey Martin Garcia. Campaigned by George Todaro and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, the gray filly ran 1 1/16 miles on the Cushion Track in 1:44 1/5 to earn her first graded score.
"She's gotten bigger and stronger and has been training real well. We're very proud of her and very pleased with the way she's doing right now," Hollendorfer remarked.
Changethechannel headed to the front when the gates opened, and Lady of Fifty was keeping pace just to her inside. However, the three-year-old began fighting Garcia and eventually dropped back to run in fifth as Willa B Awesome and 5-2 favorite Inglorious took up position to Changethechannel's outside through splits of :24, :47 3/5 and 1:12.
Those three maintained their positions entering the turn, but exiting was a different story as the rest of the field began engulfing the leaders. Lady of Fifty swung widest of all and powered down the track to be a much-the-best winner in her first try at Hollywood Park.
"I wanted to take the lead but those other horses, they kept sending and sending," Garcia said. "I let them all go and when I finally moved out, she relaxed. I just kept her on the outside because I didn't want to get into any more trouble. When I asked her to go, she just exploded. She was much the best."
"Backing out of there early may have been the thing that made her win because the pace got a little rapid out front," Hollendorfer stated. "She recovered nicely and didn't nick herself up. We feel very fortunate for that. I don't have a race picked out yet, but we'll find something."
Sent off the near 7-2 third choice, Lady of Fifty paid $8.80, $5.60 and $3.60. Open Water got up for second by a half-length over Inglorious, while Charm the Maker filled out the fourth spot. Completing the order of finish were Changethechannel, Willa B Awesome, Class Included and Madera Castana.
"I thought it was a tremendous race on her part. She ran the way we expected," said Corey Nakatani, who had piloting duties aboard Open Water. "She was training really well coming into the race and at the same time we were trying something a little different with her today -- wait a little longer."
"Her last work was after the rain and it really made her blow that morning," jockey Mike Smith said about Inglorious. "She definitely needed the race and ran well. This race should really move her up."
"I thought she ran a tremendous race, she just got a little tired," trainer Josie Carroll agreed about the favorite.
Lady of Fifty began her racing career at Santa Rosa, taking her maiden debut by four lengths in July 2011 before moving to Golden Gate Fields, where she proceeded to capture the Golden Gate Debutante and Corte Madera. The daughter of After Market opened her sophomore season with a 3 1/4-length, gate-to-wire victory in the California Oaks, before suffering the first of two consecutive off-the-board efforts in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby against the boys.
She didn't show anything when switched to Santa Anita's turf next out either, but a return to the Tapeta at Golden Gate in an allowance saw Lady of Fifty back in the top three. Trying Santa Anita's main dirt track in October, the gray miss finished third in the L.A. Woman (formerly Louis Rowan) and added the Palm Springs Handicap to her resume in her last two.
Lady of Fifty improved her line to read 6-0-3 with her Bayakoa triumph, and has now banked $320,000 in career earnings.
Bred in Kentucky by Cloverleaf Farm II Inc., the three-year-old lass came to her current connections as a $40,000 Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the Grade 3-placed Maria's Mon mare K. D.'s Shady Lady, making her a half-sister to stakes hero Forestry Steel. This is the same female family as dual Grade 1 king Diazo and Grade 3 winner Real Dandy.