10/06/2006 11:00PM

Baghdaria clear winner in Indiana Oaks

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Baghdaria's victory Friday night in the Grade 3, $402,800 at Hoosier Park came as no surprise to most observers, especially bettors who sent her off as the second choice. More surprising was the manner in which she won.

Better known for her game stretch duels resulting in margins of victory of less than a length, Baghdaria dominated a field for the first time in her career, winning the Oaks by four lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

The win was Baghdaria's third at the Grade 3 level this year. Baghdaria previously won the Silverbulletday at Louisiana Downs and the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.

Bejarano was content to rate Baghdaria in mid-pack while Coolwind, Peak Maria's Way, Cryptoquip, and Maggie Slew raced abreast down the backside. Of those four, only Cryptoquip emerged as a viable threat as the field rounded the second turn, and she took a brief lead at the top of the stretch. By then Baghdaria was full of run and Cryptoquip had little left to repel her late charge. Cryptoquip held second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of longshot Southern Flu.

The Indiana Oaks field was reduced to eight following the scratches of Miraculous Miss, the morning line favorite, and California invader Political Web. Ermine, the Kentucky Oaks runner-up, started as the 2-1 favorite, but was never prominent and finished sixth.

Baghdaria, who is trained by Tom Amoss, paid $9.80 and covered 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.64. She has now won five of 11 starts, with earnings of over $597,000.

* Lady Blue Sky, ridden by Terry Thompson, was an odds-on winner of the $40,000 Richmond Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for Indiana-bred fillies and mares Friday night over Free Bonus and Passing Pleasure.