The Bob Baffert-trained Sunland Park Oaks winner Princess Arabella, it was announced today, was retired with a tendon injury. A New York Times expose from March 25 about breakdowns/injuries and the state of the racing industry highlighted Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico as the most dangerous track in the nation, followed closely by New Mexico’s Sunland Park, but if the recent past is a barometer there isn’t anything transitive about the Sunland Park Oaks and Princess Arabella’s injury, except that Baffert wins the race frequently and the winners of it go on to better things.
Baffert has won four of the last six runnings of the race, a Listed event at a mile and a sixteenth for 3-year-old fillies. Each of the last five winners has won higher-grade races after the Sunland Oaks, which has a better record for producing subsequent high-quality winners than some Graded races.
This year, Princess Arabella, a daughter of Any Given Saturday, won the race by eight lengths for Baffert and Peachtree Stable.
In 2011, Baffert and Peachtree combined to win it with the Medaglia d’Oro filly Plum Pretty, whose career record to date is five wins from 11 starts. She won the Oaks by 25 lengths before also winning the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, Grade 1 Apple Blossom, and the Grade 2 Cotillion.
In 2010, the Dave Hofmans-trained Harissa, a daughter of Afleet Alex, won the race by three and a half-lengths. She’s won six races from 14 starts, including the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
In 2009, Baffert won the race with the Medaglia d’Oro filly Gabby’s Golden Gal, who aired by 13 lengths. She has won four of 10 starts, including two subsequent Grade 1 races: the Acorn and the Santa Monica.
In 2008, when the race was sponsored by WinStar Farm, Steve Asmussen won the race with the Maria’s Mon filly Sky Mom, who took it by four and three-quarter-lengths. A winner of six races from 21 starts, she subsequently won the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks.
In 2007, it was Baffert again, this time with Watson and Weitman Performances LLC’s Tough Tiz’s Sis, a winner of eight races form 20 starts. By WinStar sire Tiznow, Tough Tiz’s Sis won the WinStar Sunland Park Oaks by three and three-quarter-lengths before parlaying that into scores in the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret, Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap, Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders’ Cup Oaks, and Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap.
Princess Arabella’s unfortunate injury probably cost her greater future success based on these records.