09/12/2012 2:55PM

Fairplex: Fightin Mean Mad looks tops in Shepherd


POMONA, Calif. – A buying spree at the inaugural Del Mar paddock sale in late July produced two big winners already for trainer Jeff Bonde.

Perhaps the best is yet to come.

Fightin Mean Mad, the $200,000 sale-topper, makes her first start for Bonde and owner Jerry Durant in the Phil D. Shepherd Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Friday at Fairplex Park. The $50,000 stakes is hers for the taking.

“We paid a lot of money for her, and hope she can do something special,” Bonde said.

Fightin Mean Mad’s only start was a maiden romp for trainer Larry Rivelli on June 20 at Arlington. A month later she shipped to Del Mar, where Bonde bought her and two others.

Nechez Dawn, purchased for $125,000, won the $97,000 Daisycutter Handicap on Aug. 10 at Del Mar in her first start for Bonde. Catienus Gold, purchased for $35,000, scored a runaway maiden win Sept. 8 at Fairplex.

As for Fightin Mean Mad, she is the 8-5 favorite in the Shepherd, and Bonde is confident she will fire in the seven-furlong race. “We kind of aimed for this race,” he said. “She’s a very willing horse, and has a lot of speed.”

Consideration was given this summer to the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes and Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, but Bonde felt she needed more preparation.

“She had a little time between races, and I didn’t think she was ready,” Bonde said. “She is now.”

Fightin Mean Mad is bred for speed. She is by Lifestyle, an Indian Charlie colt who won his first two starts by more than 23 combined lengths, and out of a dam that produced Grade 3-winning speedster Madman Diaries.

Beyond pedigree, Fightin Mean Mad has proven ability. Her front-running debut was flattered when the three-four-five finishers all returned to win maiden races. Fightin Mean Mad, whose debut win earned a 78 Beyer Speed Figure, will be ridden Friday by Martin Pedroza.

Ten entered the Shepherd, won last year by Candrea, subsequent runner-up in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes. In the 2012 Shepherd, Fightin Mean Mad’s main challenge may be Renee’s Titan, sixth two weeks ago in the Del Mar Debutante. Renee’s Titan previously finished fourth in the Sorrento, beaten less than three lengths with a 76 Beyer.

Stakes-placed Awesome Annie will be forwardly placed in a field with only two apparent front-runners – her and Fightin Mean Mad. Hyena won two starts against claiming company at Del Mar; O Happy Gray faced good company over the summer and may fit.

The Shepherd is race 9 on a 10-race card.