CYPRESS, CA – Cicero Farms’ defending champion Marley’s Freedom returned to Los Alamitos with an easy, worry-free performance in Saturday’s $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes (G2).

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Breaking from post 2 under Drayden Van Dyke as the 3/5 favorite, Marley’s Freedom saved ground near the rear while Danuska’s My Girl rocketed out to a large lead in quick opening fractions of :21.63 and :44.77. Given the cue midway through the far turn, Marley’s Freedom began advancing forward steadily. Van Dyke tipped her out to go after the leader, quickly sweeping past Just a Smidge and Show It N Moe It in the process.

Requiring only mild encouragement, Marley’s Freedom danced away in the stretch, easy as she pleased. The Bob Baffert trainee hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:15.33 for the 6 1/2-furlong sprint over the fast main track.

“She broke well and it worked out perfectly,” Van Dyke said. “She was fine-tuned to put in a big race. It was nice to win this two years in a row.”

Anonymity took second by 1 1/4 lengths over a late-rallying Exuberance. Danuska’s My Girl faded to fourth, ending her four-race win streak that included the Las Flores Stakes (G3). Show It N Moe It was a nose behind her in fifth, with Just a Smidge completing the order of finish.

Yuvetsi was listed as a trainer scratch.

Credit: Ernie Belmonte

Marley’s Freedom’s win was her second of the year, having won the Santa Monica Stakes (G2) before finishing second in both the Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1). The 5-year-old daughter of Blame improved her record to 18-9-4-0 with $1,233,935 earned after she was initially purchased for $35,000 as a yearling.

“We were hoping she would run like that,” Baffert said. “When (Van Dyke) asked her to go, he had a lot of horse. I really thought she would run better last time (in the Humana Distaff), but Mike Smith (her jockey that day) said she struggles on that surface. A lot of horses are weird on that surface. I like coming here. Los Alamitos has a great surface and it is fair. Horses can win on the lead or from off the pace.”

Marley’s Freedom returned $3.20 to win and $2.10 to place, while Anonymity paid $2.80 to place. There was no show betting.