With trainer Bob Baffert 10 miles down the road attending the Rose Bowl, his mare As Time Goes By went by her competition by 13 ½ lengths, winning the Grade 3 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita Park in dominant fashion.
As Time Goes By proved she didn’t need Baffert on the premises, opening her 5-year-old season with her second stakes victory in a month. She captured the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos Dec. 5 for her fourth stakes victory of 2021.
“This filly keeps getting better and better with age,” Baffert told Santa Anita’s Mike Willman by phone from the Rose Bowl. “I’m really excited. She has always been a barn favorite of mine. She’s got that American Pharoah temperament. They seem to be late bloomers and she is getting better all the time. I am expecting big things from her here. She will stay here and I think the Grade 1 Beholder would be next for her.”
As Time Goes By owns four stakes scores among her six career wins (6-3-1). But none are Grade 1s. And the Beholder is familiar ground for the daughter of American Pharoah. She finished second by nearly three lengths to Swiss Skydiver in last year’s Beholder.
As Time Goes By still seeking elusive Grade 1
As Time Goes By came out of that with her best-to-date Equibase Speed Figure (106), parlaying that into Grade 2 scores in the Santa Margarita Stakes in April and the Santa Maria in May. That latter victory came by a nose and included a 10 ¾-length blitzing of fourth-place Ce Ce, who would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint six months later.
As Time Goes By set herself up for that Beholder return nicely. She and Flavien Prat – who won six races Saturday – let Park Avenue set the pace going into the far turn of the 1 1/16-mile trek. That’s when Prat turned As Time Goes By loose. They went by Park Avenue at the far turn, then pulled away impressively. Prat geared down As Time Goes By in deep stretch.
“She settled nice and she had a nice target all the way around, and when it was time to make her run, she was there for me,” Prat said.
A Baffert mare in California presents no vertical value
With her reputation preceding her, As Time Goes By was there for horseplayers at 3/5 odds. She was 6/5 in her Bayakoa victory. There won’t be much value in her going forward either. Not after her New Year’s Day destruction.
Now, it’s a matter of getting over that Grade 1 hurdle. As Time Goes By finished eighth (Breeders’ Cup Distaff), sixth (Personal Ensign) and fourth (Clement Hirsch) in her last three Grade 1s.