Mary Rampellini | Feb 10, 2022
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Only the post positions have changed.
The same seven fillies and mares who had been set to run last week in the Grade 3, $250,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park were entered back for Saturday.
A winter storm led to the cancellation of racing last week, and also cost locals four days of training. The Bayakoa was redrawn and now shares a card with the Grade 3, $600,000 Razorback Handicap.
Mariah’s Princess moved in from post 7 to 5 for the Bayakoa. She will have to overcome Grade 1 winner Queen Goddess and a sharp Coach to win for the third time in a row.
Mariah’s Princess is launching her 4-year-old season after taking the $150,000 Mistletoe over 3-year-old fillies Dec. 4 at Oaklawn. Her connections awaited the Bayakoa in favor of the first race in the local filly-and-mare series, the $150,000 Pippin on Jan. 8.
“We felt she’s a listed stakes winner now and the Grade 3 needed to be our next target,” said Philip Bauer, who trains Mariah’s Princess for Rigney Racing. “Hopefully, we can graduate and continue to climb the ladder.”
Bauer knows the competition is keen coming into the Bayakoa.
“It’s a very well-matched field,” he said. “You can make a case for anybody.”
Queen Goddess, 4, became a stakes winner when she won the off-the-turf American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. Coach has captured both the Pippin and an allowance in her two starts at the meet. Matera is starting her season off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Chilukki on Nov. 20 at Churchill Downs, while stakes winners Miss Bigly and She’s All Wolfe add further depth to the field alongside the Grade 3-placed Jilted Bride.
Mariah’s Princess, who has been training at Fair Grounds, is coming off a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for her two-turn debut in the Mistletoe. The win over 1 1/16 miles came following a first-level allowance score in a seven-furlong race at Churchill against older rivals Nov. 4.
“She’s a filly that we always thought would continue to get better with distance and age, and she’s really lived up to what we thought,” Bauer said. “She’s developed into a really hearty, honest filly.”
Martin Garcia has the mount on the daughter of Ghostzapper.
“It looks like it might set up very similar to her last race, so we’re excited,” said Bauer.
Mariah’s Princess tracked the pace and won by three lengths in the Mistletoe. Lovely Ride, who ran third, returned in her next start to capture the Pago Hop at Fair Grounds.
Coach won at a mile in the Pippin and now moves back to the distance of her Dec. 17 allowance win at Oaklawn, which came over Jilted Bride. She won the Pippin over Miss Bigly.
Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Coach from post 7 for trainer Brad Cox. She had previously drawn post 2.
Queen Goddess owns the field’s best career Beyer, a 95 for the American Oaks. The race marked her dirt debut after she made her first five starts on the grass. David Cabrera has the mount on the daughter of Empire Maker from post 6 for trainer Michael McCarthy. Queen Goddess had previously drawn post 5.