Before Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old filly Gamine made her debut Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park, the respected clocker Gary Young told XBTV, “She’ll be 1-9, and she will run like a 1-9 shot.”
That she did.
The $1.8 million sales topper lived up to the expectations not just of Young but of her many backers at the window, coasting down the lane of a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight event for fillies 3 and up.
All Gamine’s rivals were fellow sophomores, but this race wasn’t about the competition. After getting away cleanly from the gate, Gamine, a daughter of Into Mischief campaigned by Michael Lund Petersen, was never pressured.
“I always get nervous the first time when I know I have a superstar in a making,” Baffert told TVG. “Sometimes they can work great, and in the afternoon they just don’t show up.”
She cut fractions of 22.42 seconds for the opening quarter mile, went the half in 46.17 and finished 3/4 in 1:10.21. By then, it was long over, with jockey Drayden Van Dyke never asking his mount.
The clock stopped in 1:16.59 — and then the hype began.
Gamine entered Saturday’s race off a series of what Young called “jaw-dropping” works at Santa Anita, and she apparently scared off the competition, too.
“They’ve been trying to get a race for her for a little while now,” Young said.
Finally, with the help of Baffert stablemate and race runner-up Reem, three others entered with Gamine, who could be on the fast track to the Kentucky Oaks trail. The Santa Anita Oaks (G2) is the final local option on April 4, with the winner and possibly runner-up garnering enough points to head to Churchill Downs.
But could Gamine have gotten more out of this?
Baffert told Van Dyke to let Gamine gallop out strong after the race if she won as expected.
“He thought I said, ‘Don’t let her gallop out strong,'” Baffert added. “I was trying to train and win at the same time.”
Baffert later quipped that Van Dyke did his job, saying, “He didn’t fall off.”