ARCADIA, Calif. (June 22, 2014)–Trainer Doug O’Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez had another on Sunday at Santa Anita. Another stakes win that is, as Gutierrez guided California-bred Wake Up Nick to a gutty three quarter length tally in the $125,000 Santa Anita Juvenile, as the chestnut colt by Cindago scurried 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.28 while withstanding the late charge of Story to Tell and Joe Talamo.
A 9 ¼ length first-out maiden winner versus statebreds on May 1, Wake Up Nick bested five 2-year-old rivals, including even money favorite Holiday Camp, who never threatened and finished last, beaten 6 ½ lengths.
Winners of the 2012 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another, O’Neill, Reddam and Gutierrez served notice they’re back with another talented juvenile.
“That was nice,” said O’Neill. “There’s nowhere to run when you win early at the meet like that and to try and keep him to maintain his sharpness as long as we had, it shows how good this horse is. I was impressed. I thought he was in deep water around the turn there, but once he got near the front…Mario said he was a little lazy. He needs to be coerced, so once we got him up in there (between horses at the top of the lane), there was no looking back.”
The fourth choice at 4-1, Wake Up Nick tracked pacesetter Kriti’s Copilot through splits of 21.98, 45.00 and 57.58. He paid $10.80, $5.20 and $4.40. With the winner’s share of $75,000, he increased his earnings to $108,600.
“It worked out perfect today,” said Gutierrez. “I thought that Baffert’s horse (Holiday Camp) was going to go for the lead and my plan was to have us sit close but not to rush him. I did the best I could and these are babies, I wanted to save all I could for the end.”
Story to Tell was next to last going into the far turn and finished like a colt who will improve as the distances get longer. The second choice at 4-1, he paid $5.80 and $4.60.
First time starter Homer Matt, ridden by Edwin Maldonado, couldn’t run with the winner the final sixteenth and tired to finish third, a half length in front of Henry’s Holiday and Tyler Baze. Off at 15-1, Homer Matt paid $6.60 to show.