‘Doll punctuates Baffert’s day

Times Staff Writer

Twenty-eight years to the day after he won his first thoroughbred race as a trainer, Bob Baffert won a much more lucrative event Sunday at Santa Anita.

Baffert, who collected his first victory Jan. 28, 1979, in a race with a purse of $600 at Rillito Park in Tucson, won the $150,000 Santa Monica Handicap with favored Pussycat Doll.

Making her first start since winning the Humana Distaff on May 6 at Churchill Downs, the 5-year-old Real Quiet mare added another Grade I victory to her resume with a four-length win under Garrett Gomez.


Now a three-time Grade I stakes winner -- besides the Humana Distaff, she also won the 2005 La Brea at Santa Anita -- for owner-breeder Mike Pegram, Pussycat Doll ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.32 for her sixth victory in 11 starts.

“She’s just a very good mare,” said Baffert, who also won last year’s Santa Monica with Behaving Badly. “She looked really fantastic in the paddock. She was in a good spot down the backstretch and when I saw 44 flat [44.08 for the half mile] I thought it should suit her fine.”

Nossa Cancao, the third longest shot in the field of 10 at 37-1, finished second in her final career start and 13-1 outsider Secret Scheme was third.


Making her first start since finishing ninth in the Matriarch two months ago at Hollywood Park, Attima, the 2-1 favorite, enjoyed her first trip down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, winning the $81,100 Wishing Well Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths.

The victory was the fifth in 12 starts for the 4-year-old Zafonic filly, who is owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino and is trained by Julio Canani. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, she ran the about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.62.


Bwana Bull, one of three 3-year-olds trainer Jerry Hollendorfer started in the race, won the $150,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

David Lopez picked up the mount on the son of Holy Bull after Russell Baze was involved in a spill one race earlier and took off his final two mounts on the card. The victory was the third in seven starts for Bwana Bull, who is owned by a partnership.

Favored Boutros was a troubled second under Kent Desormeaux.


Ramazutti, a 9-1 shot who failed to win in 10 starts in 2006, scored in his first start of the new year, winning the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap at Gulfstream Park.


Carminooch, the 9-5 favorite, was up to beat Successful Appeal by a head to win the $65,950 Proud Appeal at Aqueduct.

The win was the sixth in 17 starts for the 5-year-old Tomorrows Cat horse, who is owned by Three Amigos Stables and trained by Seth Benzel.

The final time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:03.87.


Trainer Jennie Green was fined $750 by Santa Anita stewards Scott Chaney, Albert Christiansen and Tom Ward after two of her horses tested positive for excess levels of methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant.

The two horses who tested positive were Top One, who finished second in the fifth race Dec. 28 and Getnhotnhere, who finished second in the first Jan. 6.

The stewards also suspended Espinoza for three days, beginning Saturday, for “failure to maintain a straight course and causing interference” while riding Trick a Cat in the fourth race Friday.

Trick a Cat finished second as the favorite in the turf race, but was not disqualified.