Forever Darling got a head ride from Rafeal Bejarno in Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Ynez S. (G2), rallying to win the 6 ½-furlong contest by a half-length for the first career stakes win for the 3-year-old Congrats filly.
Forever Darling is the 20th lifetime black type winner for Congrats, who was a top-ten sire by winners in 2015. He’s standing this year at WinStar for $20,000 live foal.
Bejarano had Forever Darling tracking just outside of Pretty N Cool in the early stages of the Santa Ynez, holding his position until the top of the stretch, when eventual second-place finisher Code Warrior made it a three-way battle for the lead.
Forever Darling dug in stoutly in the final furlong to hold the others at bay, stopping the timer in 1:16.25.
“I had a good position from the beginning,” said Bejarano. “I saw Martin (Garcia) go with Pretty N Cool and I knew she was the horse to beat, so I put us in right behind them and went from there. I knew pressure was coming by the three-eighths pole and I just tried to keep going.”
“She has a lot of determination and you can’t teach that to a horse,” said winning trainer Richard Baltas. “I’m just glad that I own a piece of her and I train her. It’s just a great day for me.”
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Debby Oxley from the Deputy Minister mare Darling My Darling, a two-time stakes winner of $352,359.