10/25/2012 4:10PM

Santa Anita: Much improved Lady Ten looks good in Autumn Miss


ARCADIA, Calif. – Lady Ten fooled Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert at the start of her career in January.

“We weren’t that excited about her,” he said.

Lady Ten made her first start in a $50,000 claimer for maidens, finishing second. She needed five more starts to beat maidens, doing so on turf in May. Since then, Lady Ten has thrived, including a win in the Sandy Blue Handicap on turf at Del Mar in August.

Lady Ten’s turf form will make her the favorite for Saturday’s $100,000 Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on grass at Santa Anita.

“On turf, she’s proven to be a hard-trying filly,” Baffert said. “She always runs one-two-three.”

Owned by breeder Mercedes Stable, Lady Ten, who is by Rock Hard Ten, has never been worse than third in her 10-race career. She won the Sandy Blue by a neck and followed with a second by a length to A Jealous Woman in the restricted Swingtime Stakes here Oct. 6. In that race, she trailed by 4 1/2 lengths with a quarter-mile remaining, but could not catch the pacesetter.

Baffert has been impressed with Lady Ten’s steady improvement, citing her pedigree as a reason for her late developments.

“With Rock Hard Tens, the longer you wait the better off you are,” he said. “She’s doing well.”

The Autumn Miss Stakes drew 11 entrants and will be the biggest field that Lady Ten has faced since a runner-up finish in a maiden race here back in March. She tends to race near the front, which gives jockey Rafael Bejarano the option of taking the lead or rating his mount just behind the pacesetters.

Lady Ten is not a standout. She must beat fillies such as Best Present Ever, Charm the Maker, and Open Water.

Best Present Ever won the Campanile Stakes for California-bred fillies at Golden Gate Fields in June, but is winless in three subsequent stakes. She was second in a division of the California Cup Distaff on the hillside turf course Oct. 13.

Charm the Maker is a threat in her second start following a layoff.

Trained by Ron McAnally, Charm the Maker was second in the Unzip Me Stakes on the hillside turf course Sept. 29, her first start since early April.

Open Water has yet to win a stakes, but has been second or third in three top races, including third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes here last March and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on turf in August. Most recently, she was fifth in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 15.

Trainer Eric Guillot said Open Water can win, if she gets a clean trip from post 10.

“I think she’s good all the way around,” Guillot said. “It’s how the race unfolds. You’ve got to have the trip, the ride, and the fractions have to go your way. I think she’ll run huge.”