01/26/2013 5:10PM

Santa Anita: Fiftyshadesofhay much the best in Santa Ysabel

Benoit & Associates
Fiftyshadesofhay, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, cruises home 5 3/4 lengths in front in the Santa Ysabel for 3-year-old fillies.

ARCADIA, Calif .- A half-dozen races into her career, Fiftyshadesofhay is showing the promise long expected of the 3-year-old filly.

Saturday at Santa Anita, she won her first stakes in the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes, pulling away in the stretch on a wet-fast track to win by 5 3/4 lengths over 2-1 Heir Kitty.

Fiftyshadesofhay ($14.40) stalked pacesetter Escape Act for the first half-mile before taking the lead. Staying near the front on a track that retained moisture after two days of rain was key to victory, trainer Bob Baffert said.

“We had to take advantage of the way the track is,” he said. “We were high on her and she’s starting to come around.

“She’s the kind of filly that has a high cruising speed. She can go a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter.”

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Fiftyshadesofhay ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.89.

Bejarano had Fiftyshadesofhay in front by 1 1/2 lengths on the turn when Heir Kitty and Scarlet Strike moved in tandem from the back of the field to pose a threat. Heir Kitty rallied on the rail, while Scarlet Strike was three-wide entering the stretch. Neither of those fillies could catch Fiftyshadesofhay.

Heir Kitty finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Scarlet Strike, the 3-2 favorite. Switch to the Lead and Escape Act completed the order of finish in the short field.

Fiftyshadesofhay has won 2 of 6 starts and $106,490 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman. A Pulpit filly purchased for $175,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, Fiftyshadesofhay beat maidens in her fourth career start and was eighth of 11 in the Blue Norther Stakes over a mile on turf on Jan. 1.

Fiftyshadesofhay will stay on the main track, Baffert said.

 “We tried her on the turf,” Baffert said. “It was a disaster.”