News and STORIES

Fighting Mad Takes Santa Maria Stakes

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Monday June 01, 2020
Gary and Mary West's Fighting Mad took the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes (G2) on May 31. Coming in at 10-1 odds, the daughter of New Year's Day surprised some with her performance. 

She easily defeated the competition in the field, going gate-to-wire on the main track in Southern California.

Fighting Mad's Victory 

The field consisted of just five runners, and it was led early on by Fighting Mad and jockey Abel Cedillo. They moved to the front right after the break, before moving inside to the rail. The pair held a one-length leading margin. 

Horologist and Flavien Prat stalked the pace, sitting in second just off the lead. Kaydetre was in third a half-length behind.  Horologist tried to keep up with Fighting Mad along the backstretch but faded away as the half-mile went in :46.49. 

Kaydetre also began to lose ground going into the second turn, as Ce Ce and Victor Espinoza made a three-wide move off the turn to get close to Fighting Mad. 

Fighting Mad was leading by two lengths at the six-furlong mark. In the stretch, she drifted out but continued to keep her pace. The filly moved forward in the final strides, finishing 3 1/4 lengths in front at the wire. 

Her final time for the 1 1/16-mile event was 1:42.12 on a fast track.

"Jimmy (Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert) told me to send her to the lead. When she broke, she broke like a rocket, so I was just trying to slow down," said Cedillo. "I know I went a little fast, but she just did it on her own. 

"The first race I watched was a ride by Joe Talamo (Aug. 17 Torrey Pines). She was just doing the same thing, he didn't budge (on) her, and she won by eight. In her other race (a second-place finish in a six-furlong allowance on July 19), she was looking around, which she did today, but in the stretch, she just did it easy."

The Rest of the Field 

Ce Ce made up ground as she came off the turn but was not able to hold it. 

Hard Not to Love, who had trouble at the start, ran in last for most of the race. Led by Mike Smith, she moved ahead of Ce Ce by 2 1/4 lengths in the deep stretch to finish second.

Prat and Horologist had a bad step in the second turn and ended up walking through the finish. Following the conclusion of the race, the Gemologist filly was walked off the course.

Fighting Mad had just one other stakes win in 2019, which came in the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. She has a 4-1-0 record from seven starts, with earnings of $294,008. 

"She needed her last race, and she had trained well coming into this," said Baffert. "We've always been high on her, and today, I told the jock to put her on the lead, that's where she wants to be. 

"She can be a little headstrong, but I could see turning for home, I knew she was gonna be tough to beat. Today, she ran like she did at Del Mar, that's a really good time on this track."

Fighting Mad was bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West, and she is out of the Forestry mare Smokey's Love. She is a half-sister to three other winners, and she only had one other start in 2020, which was a fourth-place finish in the May 17 Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.