Updated on 05/04/2012 4:15PM

Churchill Downs: Contested sets stakes record in Eight Belles romp

Tom Keyser
Contested, ridden by Martin Garcia, scores as the even-money favorite in the Eight Belles.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -   Eight Belles is owned by Jill Baffert. On Friday, the once beaten 3-year-old filly set a stakes record in cruising to an easy 4 3/4-length victory over Good Deed in the Eight Belles Stakes while wearing Mike Pegram’s silks at Churchill Downs

“The most important set of silks we had to send here and they didn’t get shipped,” quipped trainer Bob Baffert after the race.
Contested turned what had been a two-horse race during the early stages of the seven -furlong Eight Belles into a one-horse race in early stretch, stalking pacesetter Good Deed from the outset under jockey Martin Garcia before drawing away convincingly through the final furlong. Her final time of 1:21.29 established a stakes mark, breaking the record of 1:21.97 set by Roxelana in 2000.

Good Deed was easily second best, finishing 6 1/4 lengths in front of Always Here Too.

The victory was the third in four starts for Contested, a daughter of Ghostzapper who Baffert purchased for his wife for $110,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September sale.

“I wanted to buy a gift for Jill at the sale,” said Baffert. “She was a pretty filly whose sire was a little cold at the time so I thought we might steal her.”

Contested, who paid $4.20, missed more than six months after chipping an ankle winning her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths in October. She launched her 3-year-old campaign with a similarly one-sided allowance win on April 15, both victories coming at Santa Anita.

“It was a last-minute decision to run her in this race. Originally I had been looking at the Miss Preakness,” said Baffert. “But I really liked her work here last weekend so I decided to run her here. I never even told Jill the horse was running in the Eight Belles until I entered her.”

Trainer Steve Margolis said he was proud of his filly Good Deed even in defeat.

“She ran hard,” said Margolis. “Baffert’s filly was just too good.”