CRYSTAL BALL FIRES BIG OFF BENCH & TAKES $63,000 SANTA ANITA ALLOWANCE BY ONE LENGTH AS BAFFERT & PRAT TEAM FOR MILE WIN IN 1:36.53
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 2, 2021)–Idle since well beaten in Saratoga’s prestigious Grade I Alabama Stakes Aug. 15, Bob Baffert’s Crystal Ball was more than ready on Friday at Santa Anita, as she stalked the pace and drew clear late for a one length tally in the day’s $63,000 allowance feature. Ridden by Flavien Prat and owned by WinStar Stablemates Racing, LLC, the 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon got a flat mile in 1:36.53.
With longshot Miss Fia and apprentice Jessica Pyfer darting to the early lead from the rail, Crystal Ball sat a close second to the far turn and drew within a neck a quarter mile from home. With Miss Fia running her heart out to her inside, Crystal Ball gained the advantage at the sixteenth pole and gradually drew clear.
Fifth, beaten 25 ¼ lengths by eventual Eclipse Champion Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama, but a close second two starts back in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks on July 18, Crystal Ball was the narrow second choice at even money and paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.10.
“Coming off a layoff, she’d been training well, but there’s nothing like a race,” said Baffert. “Now, she’s ready to get back to some stakes competition, so this will set her up nice…There’s nothing like bringing them back off a long layoff. Those fillies, they made her run hard, that was a tough race.”
Out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Déjà vu, Crystal Ball, who broke her maiden here in impressive fashion three starts back on June 14, is now 5-2-1-1 and with the winner’s share of $37,800, increased her earnings to $163,800.
Ridden by eastern-based Javier Castellano in her two summertime starts at Saratoga, Crystal Ball was handled for the first time today by Prat, who notched his meet-leading 76th win of the Winter/Spring stand, 26 clear of Juan Hernandez, while Baffert collected his league-leading 27th win, one up on Phil D’Amato.
The actual favorite at even money, Pharoah’s Heart was “all-in” around the far turn and kept to her task through the lane, beating Miss Fia by a half length while returning $2.40 and $2.10 with John Velazquez up.
Off at 12-1, Miss Fia, in a huge effort, finished 7 ¼ lengths clear of Last First Kiss and paid $3.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.95, 46.89, 1:11.16 and 1:23.77
Friday marked the first racing day in over year that the track was open to the General Public. With first post time for a blockbuster 12-race card on Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day set for 12 noon, fans are encouraged to visit santaanita.com/open to purchase reserved seating. Santa Anita’s Infield Area will also be open on both Saturday and Sunday, and admission must be purchased in advance via the track’s website.
For additional information, please call (626) 574-RACE.