07/27/2013 7:59PM

Del Mar: Sweet Marini much the best in Fleet Treat

Benoit & Associates
Sweet Marini, with Martin Garcia aboard, scores by 4 3/4 lengths in Fleet Treat.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Sweet Marini finally lived up to the potential of her private purchase in 2012 with an easy win in Saturday’s $200,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies at Del Mar.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Sweet Marini ($4.60) led throughout, repelling a challenge from 3-5 favorite Doinghardtimeagain on the turn to win by 4 3/4 lengths over 14-1 Qiaona.

Warren’s Veneda, a 15-1 outsider, caught Doinghardtimeagain in the final sixteenth to finish third in the field of five. Doinghardtimeagain finished fourth. She was the subject of massive show bets, attracting $440,895 of the $506,588 bet to show.

As a result, the show payoffs of the race were abnormally nigh. Sweet Marini paid $8.40, Qiaona paid $25.40, and Warren’s Veneda paid $26.60.

Sweet Marini set fractions of 23.03 and 45.75 seconds, leading by a half-length over Doinghardtimeagain. In early stretch, Sweet Marini extended her lead to four lengths as Doinghardtimeagain faded from contention. Sweet Marini ran seven furlongs in 1:22.25.

Doinghardtimeagain was beaten 6 1/2 lengths by Sweet Marini, a loss that stunned jockey Rafael Bejarano.

“I just don’t know what happened with her,” he said. “I’m sitting there with a big hold and we’ve only gone 23 and change and I’m loving it. But then nothing. She just wasn’t herself. I don’t have an answer.”

Sweet Marini, who races for owner Kaleem Shah and trainer Bob Baffert, won her first stakes in the Fleet Treat Stakes.

“We’ve been waiting on her,” Baffert said. “She really likes this surface. She’s a really good filly.”

A winner of 3 of 5 starts and $237,760, Sweet Marini was purchased privately by Shah after she won a maiden race in her debut last November at Santa Anita. There were high expectations that Sweet Marini would be competitive in stakes for California-breds over the winter, but the filly’s campaign was postponed because of illness.

After an eighth in the Evening Jewel Stakes at Santa Anita in March, Sweet Marini raced twice at the Betfair Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. Sweet Marini was second to Doinghardtimeagain in the Melair Stakes in April, and won an allowance race for California-bred fillies and mares on May 26, her final start before Saturday’s race.