Fiftyshadesofhay provided her connections some anxious moments before prevailing by three-quarters of a length in Sunday's $250,000 Ruffian S. (G2) at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old filly, who Baffert trains for the trio of Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, has now won four graded stakes, all coming at different tracks.
Sent off the 8-5 favorite, Fiftyshadesofhay coasted along near the back of the six-horse field for the first half of the one-mile contest. Mid-way on the turn, John Velasquez asked the filly for her run along the inside, but it wasn't until he swung her to the middle of the racetrack in mid-stretch that she began to make up ground. She sped by a trio of foes in the final furlong to win pulling away in 1:35.70 over a fast track.
"She had me a little worried there the way (announcer Tom) Durkin was calling her," said Baffert. "I saw her way behind and I saw the hot pace, so I thought we had a chance. I told John to ride her however he wanted and I guess he knew what he was doing. It worked out that way at Pimlico last year (in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan S.), and she won. She likes to run from off the pace, but you can't really do that in California."
Fiftyshadesofhay, who also picked up wins in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel S. and Grade 3 Iowa Oaks last year, has now bankrolled $946,547 in 16 lifetime starts.