Masterful Smith Gives Gingham Wings to Win First Stakes in Angel Flight
ARCADIA, Calif. — Cool as ever, “Big Money” Mike Smith choreographed yet another masterpiece on Saturday at Santa Anita, as he bided his time and pounced when it counted with favored Gingham in the $75,000 Angels Flight Stakes, winning by one length while covering 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.21. Trained by Bob Baffert, Gingham notched her first stakes victory while sprinting for the first time in her nine-race career.
Breaking from the rail, Gingham was into the bridle with Smith from the outset, but was last in the field of five sophomore fillies about three lengths off the lead mid-way around the far turn. As the Art Sherman-trained Been Studying Her appeared to spurt away three sixteenths out under Flavien Prat, Smith shifted into the three-path and Gingham was in high gear with her ears pinned, gaining the advantage in deep stretch while winning in hand.
“I thought this might be a good distance for her and I really think it is,” said Smith, who had only ridden Gingham in one prior start, seven races back at Los Alamitos on Sept. 19. “It is probably what she wants, she’s never really gotten a chance to sprint before, but I remember last summer early on before she ever ran, Bob had some high expectations (for) her and she really never got to where he thought she should be.
“I think after watching this race today, it may be that she wants to split middle distance…A one turn mile would be brilliant, perfect.”
Most recently a well beaten fifth in an ungraded 1 1/16 mile stakes at Oaklawn Park May 1, Gingham, who was second to the brilliant Venetian Harbor two starts back in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes here on Feb. 8, was the narrow 8-5 favorite, returning $5.40, $2.80 and $2.20.
“Mike Smith showed a lot of confidence,” said Baffert by phone. “You give him something to work with, he gets it done. He closes the deal.”
Owned by Sarah Kelly and Jane Wiltz, Gingham, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Quality Road, out of the Pulpit mare Chapel, picked up $47,400 for the win, increasing her earnings to $202,200. In getting her first stakes win, she’s now 9-3-4-0 overall.
The lone California-bred in the field and headquartered with octogenarian Sherman at Los Alamitos, Been Studying Her ran a tremendous race, finishing 5 ¼ lengths clear of Biddy Duke. The second choice at 9-5, Been Studying Her paid $2.80 and $2.20.
Ridden by Aaron Gryder, Biddy Duke was off at 7-1 and paid $2.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.53, 45.59 and 1:10.11.
Racing resumes with a nine-race card on Sunday with first post time at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Santa Anita Press Release