08/29/2013 1:17PM

Del Mar Debutante big challenge for Awesome Baby


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DEL MAR, Calif. – Awesome Baby may have tipped only some of her ability when she scored a convincing win in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs Aug. 4.

“She’s fast,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “She ran a big race.”

Awesome Baby must do that again to win Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies over seven furlongs. She makes her stakes debut as part of a solid field of eight that includes the stakes winners Concave, She’s a Tiger, and Sprouts.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Awesome Baby starts from the rail in the Debutante and will be ridden by Martin Garcia. Because of her inside draw, Awesome Baby is expected to show speed, like she did in her debut win.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

Awesome Baby displayed no signs of slowing in the last furlong of her maiden win, pulling clear by 4 3/4 lengths after setting a quick pace of 21.80 and 45.03 seconds for the first half-mile. Baffert said he expects her to be in front in the Debutante.

If she does not get the lead, Awesome Baby may be able to come from off the pace. When she worked six furlongs in 1:11 last Sunday, she negotiated her way between other workers before reaching the front, Baffert said.

“She had an impressive work,” Baffert said. “Horses broke in in front of her and she had to zing through them. She handled it really well.”

Executiveprivilege gave Baffert his seventh Del Mar Debutante victory last year, and it was his first win in the race since 2006. If he wins on Saturday, Baffert will tie D. Wayne Lukas with eight wins in the track’s top race for 2-year-old fillies.

Baffert has three runners in the field, including the maiden Fascination and Secret Compass, a maiden race winner here July 28 in her second start.

“The three fillies I have are really nice,” Baffert said.

They’ll have to be. Concave and She’s a Tiger were separated by a half-length in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 7. The Sorrento Stakes was the stakes debut for Concave. She’s a Tiger won the Landaluce Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 13.

Concave will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, a replacement for Mario Gutierrez, who rides Sprouts. Concave and Sprouts are owned by Paul and Zillah Reddam, who supplemented the fillies to the Debutante for $10,000 each on Wednesday.

Sprouts has won 3 of 4 starts and has earned $149,240. Trained by Ed Freeman, Sprouts won the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 15 and the California Thorough Breeders Association Stakes for California-breds on July 19.

The field also includes Bajan and Southern Sunshine, who were first and second, separated by a nose, in a maiden race Aug. 10.

She’s a Tiger will wear blinkers for the first time in the Del Mar Debutante.

“She’s a lot more focused,” trainer Jeff Bonde said. “Before, she was always flicking her ears and looking around.”

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She’s a Tiger led throughout the Landaluce and closed from third to lead in the Sorrento before being caught in the final furlong by Concave. Gary Stevens has the mount on She’s a Tiger on Saturday.

“I think my horse is versatile,” Bonde said. “According to Gary Stevens, she’ll run all day. If he’s right, I’m good. You want them to show well right now.”