Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. had a snug hold on Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Terra Promessa nearly the entire way around in Saturday’s $150,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. The only time he let the Steve Asmussen trainee run was in the stretch and the bay filly merely extended her already insurmountable advantage to finish 4 3/4 lengths clear on the wire.
Terra Promessa grabbed command of the 1 1/16-mile race soon after the start, setting splits of :23.20, :47.19, 1:11.99 and 1:36.80, and stopped the clock in 1:43.18 over the fast main track. She returned $3 as the 1-2 heavy favorite against seven rivals.
The race was delayed briefly as Super Saks dug her hooves in and refused to load. After much shoving and pulling on the part of the assistant starters, the multiple stakes winner was finally settled in the starting gate and the doors opened. Super Saks went with the winner early but eventually faded to last.
Power of Snunner took the runner-up spot as the 37-1 longest shot on the board. Streamline finished another 2 3/4 lengths behind in third while 9-2 second choice Ready to Confess filled out the superfecta another half-length back. Steel Cut, Hailstorm Slew, Impasse and Super Saks completed the order under the wire.
Terra Promessa is now five-for-five at Oaklawn Park. The bay daughter of Curlin just missed by a half-length when third in her debut at Keeneland in October 2015, but showed up at Churchill Downs a month later to break her maiden by a length. It was off to Oaklawn for her sophomore season, where she proceeded to take an allowance, the Honeybee Stakes and the Fantasy Stakes (G3).
Returning to Churchill for last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1), Terra Promessa led the way early before fading late to finish 10th on that occasion. She wouldn’t be seen in competition again until trying the She’s All In Handicap on December 11 at Remington Park and closed out her sophomore campaign with a seventh-place run in that contest.
Terra Promessa made her four-year-old debut on January 14 in the Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn and led every step of the way for a 2 1/4-length victory. With the Bayakoa added to her mark, the filly’s career line now reads 9-6-0-1 and she’s accumulated $615,600 in lifetime earnings.
The Kentucky-bred miss is out of the dual stakes-winning Yes It’s True mare Missile Bay. Terra Promessa is a half-sister to stakes-placed Mio Me and comes from the same female family as Canadian champion Magic Code.
Steve Asmussen, trainer Terra Promessa, winner
“In both of her races this year, she’s broke very cleanly and that’s where she’s been (on the lead). Me and (jockey) Ricardo (Santana Jr.) talked in the paddock about her confidence level and just to ride the race like a work, wherever that put her. We were concerned with some of the speed in the race, but didn’t want it to affect her. I thought Ricardo did a great job just riding her and not worrying about what they did.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey Terra Promessa, winner
“I am really happy to be back on that filly. She is one of my best fillies and favorites. I am really happy to get a win aboard her again. Thank you to Steve (Asmussen) and the connections for the opportunity. She is a really nice filly, and been doing well in the mornings.”
Did you expect to make the lead today?
“Yeah, she was doing well and I knew if I was on the lead by myself with no one pushing me that I should have a good chance because she is the type of filly that can run all day. She showed her class today.”
Chris Emigh, jockey Power of Snunner, second
“She ran huge. (Trainer) Mr. (Joe) Sharp told me this filly was training very well. He just got this horse not long ago and he said “She is going to run big” so be confident. And she did. I thought I might catch the winner, but she was a little too much horse and took off. My filly ran a good race.”