Ellafitz continued on her stakes-winning tear with a 1 1/4-length victory in the $200,000 Santa Maria S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park, giving the 5-year-old her third straight added-money win, and second Grade 2, in the last three months. The bay mare's win will put her sire Tiznow solidly in the top 10 on the 2012 General Sire List.
Ellafitz had to turn back repeated challenges while she held the front spot throughout the 1 1/16 mile contest. After dueling early with Spirit Seeker, Ellafitz put her away only to be confronted by Great Hot (BRZ), who faltered on the far turn. Finally, Miss Mittagong put in her bid, but once again, Ellafitz found more and pulled away in the final furlong to stop the timer in 1:42.48 on the fast track.
“She had to earn it today,” trainer Bob Baffert said in the winner’s circle. “Everybody took her on and the way she fought back was pretty gallant. In order to beat her, they tried to do that, but that’s part of horse racing. You’ve just got to deal with it when you have a front-runner. They tried to go with her, but she’s so tough, the way she held everybody off. She’s just showing that she’s getting better and better.”
“She had pressure all the way around the track,” winning rider Martin Garcia’s said, “but that’s the way she likes to run. She was alone on the front, and when the other horses got involved, she responded and didn’t let them pass. Today, she did what she wanted to do and just kept going. Whenever I asked her, she just took off.”
The winner's share was worth $120,000 for the D. and E. Racing partnership of David and Ella Sivage and raised the Kentucky-bred mare’s lifetime earnings to $397,957 from a 6-2-2 record in 14 career starts.
Baffert added that the next likely start for Ellafitz will come in the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita S. on March 17.