Trainer Bob Baffert summed up Sunday's $92,000 Santa Ysabel S. (G3) at Santa Anita with one simple remark: "It was a good race for her, a good workout for her."
The Hall of Fame conditioner was of course referring to Kaleem Shah's MAY DAY ROSE (Rockport Harbor), who faced only two rivals in Sunday's test following the scratches of Zazu (Tapit) and Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro). The filly proceeded to turn the race into a procession.
Taking command from the start, the bay lass established splits of :23 2/5, :47 2/5, 1:11 2/5 and 1:36 while under tight restraint from jockey Rafael Bejarano. As Bluegrass Chatter (Bluegrass Cat) and Scarlet Starlet (Congrats) duked it out for second, May Day Rose rolled under the line 1 1/4 lengths the best, stopping the clock in 1:42 4/5 for the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt affair.
"She's got a lot of natural speed and we made the lead pretty easy," Bejarano said. "I wanted to stay quiet on her and get her to relax early and she did. Bob (Baffert) said that he missed a work with her and she got a little tired the last part. I usually don't do it when I know we're going to win, but I hit her just a couple times to keep going."
"That's her style. She wants to run on the lead and she got the job done," Baffert agreed. "I missed a work with her during the rain, so I was hoping her class would carry her, and it did today.
"Watching her today, I think she's the kind of filly that probably wants to be let run a little bit earlier. She's the kind of filly that will take her speed and go 46 and change and keep going. She's more of a free-running spirit."
May Day Rose was sent off the prohibitive 1-20 favorite and returned a paltry $2.10 after place and show wagering were canceled. The $1 exotics returned $1.50 for both the exacta and trifecta, with 9-1 Bluegrass Chatter overtaking 24-1 Scarlet Starlet by a neck on the wire.
Zazu and Plum Pretty were withdrawn in favor of running in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez S. (G2) on Saturday.
May Day Rose's credentials towered over her two maiden-winning rivals. The sophomore broke her maiden last September at Del Mar and proceeded to add the Sharp Cat S. to her resume in November. She stalked the pace of the Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) last out, briefly taking over in the lane, but was no match for Eclipse Award finalist Turbulent Descent (Congrats) and faded to fourth. This first graded score boosted May Day Rose's earnings to $184,555 and her career record now stands at 5-3-1-0.
Bred in Florida by Bridledwood Farm, May Day Rose passed through the sales ring twice. She RNAed for $30,000 as an OBS March two-year-old but brought a winning bid of $220,000 from her trainer, acting as agent, in the OBS June two-year-old sale. She is out of the unraced Pine Bluff mare May Day Bluff, whose first foal was dual stakes winner May Day Vow (Broken Vow). May Day Bluff has since produced an unnamed juvenile colt by Put It Back and a yearling colt named May Day Cash (Midnight Lute).
The 12-year-old mare is herself out of the unraced May Day Ninety (Alydar), making her a half-sister to dual Grade 3 heroine Roza Robata (Fire Maker), stakes winner Burger Day (Vicksburg) and Grade/Group 3-placed winners Maggie Slew (Seattle Slew) and Go Underground (Skip Trial).
May Day Rose's third dam is May Day Eighty (Hoist the Flag), who captured the 1983 editions of the Delaware H. (G1) and Arlington Matron H. (G3).
Baffert indicated May Day Rose could try for a Grade 1 win herself in the February 5 Las Virgenes S. (G1) going a mile.