Faithfully finds competition in Santa Lucia to her liking


ARCADIA, Calif. - Faithfully won her stakes debut in Sunday’s $70,500 Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita, a day after she was withdrawn from the Grade 1 Beholder Mile against several of the circuit’s leading older females.

“I thought that might be too strong,” winning trainer Bob Baffert said. “Now she’ll have to run against those fillies next time.”

Faithfully ($5.20) won the Santa Lucia by 2 1/2 lengths over 7-2 Street Surrender, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.17. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, his third win of the day, Faithfully closed from third in a field of five for her third win in eight career starts.

Street Surrender, second in the Golden Poppy Stakes on turf at Golden Gate Fields on May 13 in her stakes debut, finished a half-length clear of 10-1 Plastered, who was followed by Coppa and Show Stealer in the small field.

Faithfully was purchased for $700,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale and is owned by Hill ‘n Dale Equine Holdings and Bruce Lunsford. A 4-year-old filly by Smart Strike, Faithfully had her second start of 2017 in the Santa Lucia, which was restricted to fillies and mares who had not won a stakes worth $25,000 or more since Sept. 15.

Faithfully was second in an optional claimer at a mile on April 14.

“She’s a bigger and stronger filly this year,” Baffert said. “It’s good to get a win in her. It’s a springboard for her.”

Faithfully has earned $156,960.

The $368,000 Beholder Mile was won by Stellar Wind, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2015 who finished a neck in front of the Baffert-trained Vale Dori, a Grade 1 winner in March. Only three fillies started in the Beholder Mile. Finest City, the champion female sprinter of 2016, was third.