by J. Keeler Johnson
Marley’s Freedom certainly loves Los Alamitos. For the second straight year, the daughter of Blame had little difficulty cruising to victory in the $200,000 Great Lady M. Stakes (G2) sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs over the California oval.
As usual, Marley’s Freedom employed late-running tactics in the Great Lady M. Stakes, dropping back to fifth place early on while front-running Danuska’s My Girl rocketed to a clear lead through fast fractions of :21.63 and :44.47. Around the turn, jockey Drayden Van Dyke elected to send Marley’s Freedom between runners, and the five-year-old mare advanced steadily to take command at the top of the lane.
From there, the race was over. Marley’s Freedom remained strong down the long Los Alamitos homestretch, clocking six furlongs in 1:08.74 and gradually widened her advantage to hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of Anonymity, with the late-charging Exuberance getting up for third place over the fading Danuska’s My Girl. The paceracking duo of Show It N Moe It and Just a Smidge trailed the field.
Marley’s Freedom stopped the clock in 1:15.33, slightly slower than her time of 1:15 flat from 2018, but still less than a second off the track record. Owned by Cicero Farms and conditioned by the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Marley’s Freedom boosted her career record to nine wins and four seconds from 18 starts, a 50% strike rate that has produced $1,233,935 in earnings.
By prevailing in the Great Lady M. Stakes, Marley’s Freedom returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since the February 16 Santa Monica Stakes (G2). In between, the six-time graded stakes winner saw her late rallies come up second-best in both the Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1).
Regardless of those two defeats, Marley’s Freedom remains one of the top female sprinters in North America, and if she continues her strong season, she’ll be among the favorites in the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita. Last year, Marley’s Freedom finished fourth by just a half-length in the championship event at Churchill Downs, but with the Breeders’ Cup heading to her home track this year, an improved showing could well be on the horizon.