08/25/2012 5:28PM

Saratoga: Contested rolls late in Test Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Contested, with Rafael Bejarano riding, pulls away from her Test rivals.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Contested started a little slowly, but she finished pretty fast to win Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes by two lengths at Saratoga.

Gypsy Robin, who chased a rapid early pace established by Ullapool, held second, a half-length in front of the New York-bred Beautiful But Blue.

The win was the fifth from seven starts for Contested, a daughter of Ghostzapper trained by Bob Baffert and owned by his wife, Jill.

"I have got a very happy wife right now," Baffert said by phone from his home near Del Mar, where he was hosting a barbeque. "That was great. She worked really well the other day. We knew she would be coming from off the pace. We knew she could do it."

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Under Rafael Bejarano, Contested broke a step slowly and seemed to bobble a couple of strides out of the gate. That may have actually benefited her as Ullapool was gunned to the lead by Joel Rosario and ran a quarter-mile in 21.49 seconds and a half-mile in 44.09.

Bejarano had Contested in third position, about five lengths off the early lead, before advancing toward the leaders around the far turn. In the stretch, Ullapool gave way, but Gypsy Robin was going strong. Contested overtook her inside the eighth pole and persevered to the wire in a final eighth of 13.41 seconds. Contested covered seven furlongs in 1:22.47 and returned $4 as the even-money favorite.

"She broke a little slow and I don't try to rush her too much, I just tried to get my horse in position," said Bejarano, who had not ridden in Saratoga since he won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign aboard Ginger Punch in 2008. "She benefited from it a lot, because those horses in front were going very fast. The pace was perfect for me."

It was the second Grade 1 win for Contested, who also took the Acorn at Belmont in May. In her last start, the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles, she finished last after setting the pace.

"She keeps her ears pinned the whole time - that's her personality," Bob Baffert said. "I'm glad we were able to get her back to where she was."

Baffert said Contested would ship back to Southern California on Monday and that he would most likely train her up to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Contested is 2 for 2 at Santa Anita, winning an allowance race in April off a six-month layoff.

"She runs really good fresh," Baffert said.