May 26, 2024

Bast breaks maiden in style in Del Mar Debutante; Vasilika up in time in Mabee

Owner Charles Chu guides Bast to the winner's circle after their victory in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) on Saturday, August 31, 2019, at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

Baoma Corp.’s Bast shaped like a filly for the future when gaining on well-regarded Inspiressa in their mutual debut at Del Mar. But that future is now, after the Bob Baffert juvenile comprehensively turned the tables with an 8 3/4-length rout in Saturday’s $301,053 Del Mar Debutante (G1).

Three factors contributed to the form reversal. The step up in trip from 5 1/2 to seven furlongs figured to help Bast more than the sprint-bred Inspiressa. Bast added blinkers to make her more focused, and coupled with the natural progression second time out, the Uncle Mo filly was primed to deliver a top performance.

Inspiressa, the 7-5 favorite, showed her speed to mix it up with Baffert’s other runner, Stellar Sound, and Leucothea through an opening quarter in :22.55. Bast, who broke alertly this time, was perched within striking range in fourth.

After Inspiressa gained the upper hand at the half in a blistering :44.88, Bast was beginning to roll into contention for Drayden Van Dyke. The 5-2 second choice was already overtaking the favorite as they swung into the stretch, and she powered ever further clear.

The tiring Inspiressa salvaged second by a half-length from Comical, who closed from last and headed Lazy Daisy for third. Stellar Sound faded to fourth, followed by Pure Xena, Powerfulattraction, and Leucothea.

Bast clocked 1:23.73 to hand Baffert his eighth Debutante victory. The Hall of Famer had not won Del Mar’s marquee race for two-year-old fillies since 2012, when Executiveprivilege edged Beholder.

“I had a ton of horse all the way,” Van Dyke said. “She broke good and when they all rushed up there, I just took a hold and sat back. She was focused today. The addition of those blinkers helped. Good horsemanship by Bob. She was cruising at the end. Very impressive.”

“She needed the blinkers the first time,” Baffert said, “but I wanted to get a race in her before the Debutante. She came back after that race and worked so well I knew she was ready to go. The blinker is really minimal. We’ll definitely look at the (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies [G1]) and races like that down the road.”

Bast has the look of a router, as you’d expect for a horse intensely inbred to Arch. Her sire, Uncle Mo, is out of an Arch mare, and Bast’s dam, Laffina, is herself by Arch. Laffina is closely related to Grade 1 heroine Fault (who is by Arch’s son Blame and out of stakes winner Charming N Lovable, Laffina’s half-sister). Laffina’s other half-siblings include Grade 2 victor Mananan McLir and Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Big Sur.

Bred by BlackRidge Stables in Kentucky, Bast was a pinhook success for Taylor Made’s Bloodstock Investments V. The bay was purchased for $200,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and went to her current connections for $500,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. She has bankrolled $192,200 from her 2-1-1-0 line.

Van Dyke came agonizingly close to a graded double, but his mount in the $201,755 John C. Mabee (G2), Juliet Foxtrot, was just mugged at the wire by defending champion Vasilika. With that last determined lunge, the even-money favorite became the first repeat winner of this race since Hall of Famer Flawlessly, who turned a three-peat (1992-94) in its original guise as the Ramona H. (G1).

Vasilika was coming off a rare loss in the August 3 Yellow Ribbon (G2), where she was beaten a half-length in third by Kentucky shipper Beau Recall. Regular rider Flavien Prat was away at Saratoga that day, but the winning team was reunited here.

Juliet Foxtrot, a stablemate of Beau Recall from the Brad Cox barn, brought a perfect three-for-three stateside mark into Del Mar. The Juddmonte homebred appeared well on her way to making it four. Working out a perfect stalk-and-pounce trip, Juliet Foxtrot got the jump on Vasilika and opened up by as many as two lengths in midstretch.

But Vasilika launched a relentless rally inside the final furlong to prevail in the nick of time. The Jerry Hollendorfer mare clocked 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.46 on the firm turf, just off Precious Kitten’s stakes record of 1:46.34 from 2007.

Juliet Foxtrot had 1 1/4 lengths to spare over Toinette, the co-second choices at 7-2 making for a formful trifecta. Paved closed stoutly to grab fourth in the 10-horse field.

“She put me in a good position today,” Prat said. “Then she picked it up and started coming. (Toinette) bothered me just a little in the stretch; she was drifting out. It almost cost me the race. When we hit the wire, I thought I’d won. But when I came back and saw the replay, I thought I was just headed back to the room.”

Hollendorfer credited both horse and rider for the result.

“When they came back (Flavien) Prat told me ‘She finds a way,’ and that’s true. He knows how to ride this filly and it looked like he felt comfortable the whole way. He didn’t get her jammed down on the rail where she couldn’t get out. He was out where he needed to be.

“I thought she was going to get there,” Hollendorfer added. “It didn’t look as close to me as it was. I’d like to see the photo. Sometimes you get a horse like this and you’re just so grateful.”

Vasilika, the $40,000 claim that keeps on giving, scored her first graded win in the 2018 Mabee. That came as part of an eight-race skein including the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Goldikova (G2). The daughter of Skipshot rebounded from a fourth in the Matriarch (G1) to reel off four straight in this season’s Megahertz (G3), Buena Vista (G2), Royal Heroine (G2), and Gamely (G1). Campaigned by Hollendorfer in partnership with All Schlaich Stables, Gatto Racing, and George Todaro, Vasilika sports a record of 34-18-4-4, $1,502,595.