February 23, 2024

Merneith tops Baffert trifecta in Santa Monica

Merneith and jockey Edwin Maldonado win the Santa Monica Stakes © BENOIT PHOTO

Merneith led a Bob Baffert-trained domination of Saturday’s $202,000 Santa Monica S. (G2) at Santa Anita, poking her head in front of stable companion Golden Principal with an inside rally at the half-mile point before drawing off to a convincing 2 1/4-length score in the seven-furlong dash for fillies and mares.

Sent off as the 9-1 longest price of the Baffert trio, Merneith covered the distance over a fast track in 1:22.28 under Edwin Maldonado and paid $20.40. Golden Principal finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Qahira, with Biddy Duke, Amuse, Proud Emma, 2-1 favorite Hard Not to Love, Fair Maiden, and Secret Keeper completing the order of finish.

“To win one-two-three, it was nice cheering down the lane,” Baffert said.

Owned by Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, Merneith was earning her second stakes win but first at graded level. A distant third to champion Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) last spring, she finished off her three-year-old campaign with a narrow victory in the Fort Springs S. at Keeneland on Breeders’ Cup weekend and then was third behind Fair Maiden and Golden Principal in the Dec. 26 La Brea (G1) when last seen. Her record now stands at 10-4-3-2, $357,900.

“This filly, every time I run her, I expect her to win and she gets beat and I’ve been really surprised she hadn’t done what she’s done and today she showed it,” Baffert said.

Bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club, Merneith is by American Pharoah and out of the stakes-winning Flattermewithroses, by Flatter. She was a $600,000 OBS March juvenile purchase.