If Laffit Pincay had his way, Bayakoa would be running every day.
Back on May 20, the speedy Argentine mare capped a five-victory day for Pincay by taking the Hawthorne Handicap.
Well, as Yogi Berra would say, it was deja vu all over again Saturday when Bayakoa came through for Pincay in the $159,000 Milady Handicap as the fourth of five winning rides.
Bayakoa's one-length decision over Flying Julia was her fourth consecutive stakes win this season. Even more impressive was the way Bayakoa carried her 124-pound package in a race that never really went her way.
Her victory, accomplished in 1:42 for the 1 1/16 miles, was good enough to place Bayakoa on top among America's older fillies and mares. And her owners, Frank and Jan Whitham of Leoti, Kan., have begun to dream of a Breeders' Cup appearance for Bayakoa next November in Florida.
"She's not nominated for the Breeders' Cup," said Frank Whitham, whose businesses include ranching and banking. "But we'll certainly think hard about making her eligible when the time comes."
"She'll be there," promised Jan Whitham.
The Milady was hard work for Bayakoa nearly every step of the way. Normally long gone on the early lead, the 5-year-old bay mare got some unwelcome company from Hollywood Glitter around a fast and furious first turn.
"I had a feeling another horse would try to run with me," Pincay said later. "With us carrying so much weight, I knew somebody would try to burn her out."
That somebody was Pat Valenzuela, aboard Hollywood Glitter, although he insisted the early pressure was not planned. "She pulled me to the lead," Valenzuela said. "I wanted to lay just off Laffit, but my filly was really rank."
Bayakoa was on the inside, with Hollywood Glitter on her flank, as they rounded the clubhouse turn at full speed. By the time they reached the backstretch, Bayakoa had taken command. But at what cost?
The timer told the tale: The second quarter-mile of 22 4/5 had been run faster than the 23 1/5 first, an unusual sight.
Hollywood Glitter stayed near Bayakoa to the far turn and then yielded to Flying Julia, who was giving Gary Stevens her best effort of the year. The last time she faced Bayakoa, the daughter of Flying Paster was beaten by 14 lengths.
This time, things were clearly different. An 11-pound advantage for Flying Julia certainly helped.
The final furlong was a tease. Flying Julia would close in, Bayakoa would inch away. Stevens rode well, but he never held out much hope of catching Pincay. The final margin of one length was Bayakoa's closest shave of her four 1989 wins.
Carita Tostada finished third, 4 1/2 lengths behind Flying Julia, and Behind the Scenes was fourth.
Bayakoa paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10; Flying Julia paid $3 and $2.10, and Carita Tostada paid $2.10. A minus show pool of $11,279 was made up by the track.
"I don't think she really ran her best race today," Pincay said of Bayakoa. "She really couldn't, the way it came up. Today maybe was the day Goodbye Halo might have beaten her."
But Goodbye Halo, who had finished second to Bayakoa in three consecutive tries, was kept in the barn by Charlie Whittingham. She will be waiting in ambush when Bayakoa starts next in the $200,000 Vanity Handicap July 15.
"We needed this race to be ready for the Vanity," said Ron McAnally, the trainer of Bayakoa.
Horse Racing Notes
There was one Pick Nine ticket with nine winners Saturday, good for a $349,571.80 payoff. . . . Laffit Pincay's highest-priced winner was Rufjan at $7.20 in the eighth race. . . . Trainer Craig Lewis and owner Ruben Brown claimed third-place Overbrook for $100,000 out of the eighth. The local record for a claim is $170,000.