12/04/2011 7:56PM

Hollywood Park: Ellafitz proves uncatchable in Bayakoa

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BENOIT PHOTO
Ellafitz carries Martin Garcia to her first stakes victory in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.- At the end of her 4-year-old season, and a dozen races into her career, Ellafitz is finally thriving for owners David and Ella Sivage and trainer Bob Baffert.

Sunday at Hollywood Park, Ellafitz led throughout the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap to win the first stakes of her career. The filly had placed in two stakes in 2010 and finally had a breakthrough performance in an important race in the Grade 2 Bayakoa.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, Ellafitz ($11.80) led by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch and was never challenged, pulling away through the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.69.

“She always breaks on top,” Garcia said. “When I asked her to go, she skipped. I think she was much the best in this group.”

Miss Mittagong, a Kentucky-bred who began her career in Europe, finished second in her American stakes debut. She finished three-quarters of a length in front of Bauble Queen, a 3-year-old who was stakes-placed for the third consecutive time.

The disappointments of the race were the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained pair of City to City and Washington Bridge.

City to City, the 8-5 favorite, finished fifth, 5 3/4 lengths Ellafitz. City to City won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar in September. Washington Bridge won the 2010 Bayakoa Handicap but was sixth of seven in Sunday’s race.

Ellafitz, who is by Tiznow, has won 4 of 12 starts and $230,857. She was bought privately by the Sivages and Baffert after she won a $62,500 claiming race for maidens in her debut at Woodbine in November 2009.

Baffert said that the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 18 is a long-term goal for Ellafitz.