Bayakoa didn't fall down Saturday at Hollywood Park.
With that concern put to rest, anyone can guess how the $157,200 Milady Handicap turned out.
Even though the 1989 Eclipse Award winning mare added another Grade I victory to her resume, the Milady wasn't quite the procession it figured to be.
Hustled out of the gate by Kent Desormeaux, Fantastic Look made the lead over the 1-9 favorite. The 5-1 second choice in the field of four still had it with a quarter of a mile to run. For an instant, the 4-year-old daughter of Green Dancer looked like she might spring the surprise of the year.
Bayakoa's trainer, Ron McAnally wasn't worried. Neither was Laffit Pincay, her regular escort. They both felt the Argentine machine had the leader measured.
Carrying 127 pounds, 14 more than Fantastic Look, Bayakoa proved her superiority in the final eighth of a mile, winning by a bit more than two lengths in 1:41 1/5 for the 1 1/16 miles.
This was the second straight Milady victory for Bayakoa, her 18th victory in 32 lifetime appearances and pushed her past $2 million in earnings.
"I tried," Desormeaux said. "At the quarter pole, I said, 'All right, mama, let's go.' She did, but Bayakoa had a little more.
"My filly ran her eyeballs out. If it's a normal field without a freak like Bayakoa in there, who knows how many she would have won by. Only time you can beat Bayakoa is when she's got a headache, a bad one."
McAnally wasn't surprised when he saw Fantastic Look in front.
"I told Laffit if something went out at the beginning to let 'em go ahead because she had a lot of weight to pick up," he said. "With all that weight you have to give a horse a chance to pick it up. So, it was basically the way we planned it.
"Anyway, we'll see what happens next. Weight is starting to tell a little bit now. That's the unfortunate part about hitting all these races. You win 'em all, you keep picking it up, then the big one comes along, and you're way up there."
Like McAnally, Pincay wasn't concerned when Bayakoa didn't have matters to herself down the backstretch.
"I just sat on her because I knew she would come from behind," he said. "(Fantastic Look) made an easy lead and she lasted longer than I thought, but my horse was relaxed the whole way. Last time (in the Hawthorne last month), she got a little tired at the end, but today she finished well and I didn't have to hit her at all.
"She's unbelievable. She carried 127 pounds and this was a very good race for her."
Kelly, who trailed most of the way, was third, seven and a half lengths behind Fantastic Look, then it was another eight back to Felidia.
Peace, who hasn't run since October, isn't the only entrant in today's $110,800 Inglewood Handicap returning after a long layoff.
Mohamed Abdu, a 6-year-old son of Rusticaro, hasn't been out since finishing a distant fourth as the even-money favorite in the Turf Paradise Handicap Jan. 28 of last year.
A winner in five of his first six starts in the United States, Mohamed Abdu suffered a leg injury after a traumatic experience with the starting gate in Arizona.
"What an unfortunate situation that was," said trainer Richard Mulhall. "I wasn't aware Turf Paradise didn't allow pony horses on their turf course.
"He's a nervous horse. When the pony turned him loose on the grass, he ran up the chute toward the starting gate. He stood up there for about five minutes waiting for the others to arrive and became a bit more excited.
"The gate help decided to load him in, but they left the horse unattended. By the time the others got to the gate, he was already jumping around. They finally got all the horses loaded and just before the gate opened, my horse put both legs over the top."
Away well behind the field, it was amazing Mohamed Abdu was able to beat seven horses, especially since he hurt himself. He's trained well of late for Mulhall--he went six furlongs in 1:11 June 8, a week after working a mile in 1:39 3/5--and he has run well fresh. Mohamed Abdu won the 1988 Col. F.W. Koester Handicap at Santa Anita after being away for almost seven months.
Gary Stevens will ride the Irish-bred, who has won half of his 14 lifetime starts and will carry 117. Besides Peace, the Inglewood lineup includes Silent Prince II, Shining Steel, Classic Fame, Just As Lucky and Miswaki Tern. Preston was also entered, but he competed in an allowance race Saturday instead.
Demonstrating again her fondness for the Golden Gate turf course, Petite Ile won the $400,000 Golden Gate Handicap, which was simulcast at Hollywood Park.
Second in the Countess Fager Handicap in her American debut for Ed Gregson, Petite Ile captured the Yerba Buena before beating Brown Bess and nine males Saturday.
Second to pacesetter Royal Reach, the 4-year-old Ile de Bourbon filly took over with about three furlongs to run and won by 2 1/2 lengths over Valdali in 2:15 2/5 for the 1 3/8 miles.
Ridden by Corey Black, Petite Ile paid $10.40 at Hollywood Park for her fifth victory from 11 starts. Pleasant Variety was third after surviving a claim of foul by Jack Kaenel, the rider of Brown Bess, who finished fourth.
Horse Racing Notes
After his victory in Northern California Saturday, Corey Black will be at Belmont Park today to ride Kanatiyr in the $188,800 Bowling Green Handicap. . . . Bayakoa picked up $89,700 Saturday and her earnings are now $2,003,167. She became the 43rd horse and the fifth filly or mare to surpass $2 million. . . . Kent Desormeaux, Laffit Pincay and Corey Nakatani each rode two winners Saturday.