Kaleem Shah Inc.'s Awesome Baby outclassed her rivals on Sunday in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks to earn another 50 points and move on top of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 110 total points.
The Awesome Again filly is following the same path that fellow Bob Baffert trainee Plum Pretty utilized to good effect when taking the 2011 Kentucky Oaks. That filly romped in the Sunland Park Oaks by 25 lengths prior to her Churchill Downs visit, and though Awesome Baby didn't post that type of margin she still ran well enough to be a contender on May 2.
Awesome Baby set all the pace in Sunday's Sunland Park Oaks, gunning to the front under jockey Mike Smith and recording fractions of :22 4/5, :45 4/5, 1:10 and 1:36 3/5. Empress of Midway was tracking just to her outside flank while Lucky for You and D'ya Knowwhatimean raced just in behind. George's Peach was distanced early on after stumbling out of the gate and bumping with the eventual winner.
Awesome Baby kept motoring into the stretch and was visually tiring, but was just too classy for these rivals and refused to yield. The dark bay sophomore finished up 1 1/16 miles on Sunland's fast dirt in 1:43 4/5 as the 1-2 favorite and paid $3 to her backers for the win.
Lucky for You and Empress of Midway battled it out in second and couldn't be separated when hitting the wire 4 1/4 lengths behind Awesome Baby. The dead-heat runner-ups were followed under the line another four lengths back by D'ya Knowwhatimean while George's Peach was last, beaten a total of 25 1/2 lengths by the winner. Let Her Dance was withdrawn.
Awesome Baby showed signs of promise when taking her August 4 maiden debut at Del Mar by 4 3/4 lengths, but then never factored when seventh in the Del Mar Debutante and a well-beaten fifth in the Chandelier to close out her juvenile campaign. She returned to form in the January 4 Santa Ynez and followed that up with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Santa Ysabel last out on March 1. Now three-for-three as a three-year-old, the dark bay filly owns a 6-4-0-0, $354,250, career record.
Bred in Kentucky by Nicholas and Debbie Sibilio, Awesome Baby was purchased for $220,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The dark bay miss is the first stakes winner out of the Running Stag mare Miss Attractive, who is a half-sister to stakes scorers Amiable Grace and Miss Tizzy. Awesome Baby's female family also includes 1991 Kentucky Derby-winning sire Strike the Gold as well as 1972 English champion two-year-old colt Noble Decree.