Behaving Badly was compensated well for what was essentially a workout on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Without ever having to be asked for her best by jockey Victor Espinoza, the 5-year-old Pioneering mare cruised to her second graded stakes win of the winter-spring meet, winning the $107,000 Las Flores Handicap by 4 3/4 lengths.
This was the sixth win in eight starts for the New York-bred, who is owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt III and trained by Bob Baffert. She ran the six furlongs in 1:09.09. The victory came less than a month after she had daylighted tougher in the Santa Monica Handicap, which is a Grade I.
“That was easy,” Espinoza said. “She was just cruising around. She tries hard and I didn’t want to knock her out for this race. I made sure I just galloped around.”
This was the 10th stakes victory of the meet for Baffert, tops among trainers, and he is only six shy of the record for stakes wins he set in the 1998-98 season.
Awesome Lady, a 20-1 outsider, finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Spirit To Spare, who was the longest shot in the Grade III at 24-1.
Form also prevailed in the other Santa Anita stakes race as Moscow Burning, the 3-5 betting choice, ran past pacesetter Alphabet Kisses to win the $100,000 Pro Or Con Handicap.
The winner of the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in her first start of 2006 on Jan. 28, Moscow Burning, a 6-year-old Moscow Ballet mare, won for the sixth time in nine starts on the Santa Anita turf course.
Ridden by David Flores for Dallas and Carlee Van Kempen’s Bullseye Racing LLC and trainer Jim Cassidy, Moscow Burning, who has won 11 of 26 and earned $1,237,535, ran the mile in 1:33.40 while winning by 1 1/4 lengths.
Lawyer Ron, the 1-2 betting favorite, led throughout to win his fourth in a row in the $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Owned by the estate of James Hines Jr., who died earlier in the week from an apparent accidental drowning, the 3-year-old Langfuhr colt prevailed by three-quarters of a length over 6-1 third choice Steppenwolfer. He ran the mile in a lackluster 1:40 under jockey John McKee.
Music School, the 9-2 second choice who had won his first two starts, finished third.
This is the second consecutive year trainer Bob Holthus and jockey McKee teamed to win the Southwest, which is the first major prep for the Arkansas Derby in April. They won in 2005 with Greater Good.
The $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes, one of four graded stakes to be run Saturday, will have a new name in 2007.
The Grade II prep for the Santa Anita Derby will be called the Robert B. Lewis Memorial in honor of the prominent horse owner and breeder who died on Feb. 17 at the age of 81.
The main event Saturday is the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap, one of two Grade I races. The other is the $300,000 Kilroe Mile on the grass. The day’s other stakes, the $100,000 Baldwin, is at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.
High Limit, who has victories in the San Pasqual and Strub at the meet, and Lava Man, who began his year with a victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic, were given top weight of 120 pounds for the 1 1/4 -mile ‘Big Cap. Giacomo, the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner, is next at 118.
Startlet Hawk, an 8-1 shot, set a stakes record in winning the $210,550 Los Alamitos Winter Derby Friday night. Owned by Gustavo Razo and trained by Jose Flores, the 3-year-old Hawkinson gelding, who was ridden by Dennis Means, beat Wave Carver by a half-length in 19.52 seconds for 400 yards.
Einstein, a 7-1 shot, led throughout to win the $190,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Stakes on Saturday. Rafael Bejarano rode the 4-year-old Spend A Buck colt for Midnight Cry Stable and trainer Helen Pitts.
In winning for the fourth time in six outings, the Brazilian-bred ran the 1 7/16 miles over a yielding turf in 2:23.91 to beat Go Deputy by a neck.