BAFFERT, BEJARANO & SPENDTHRIFT FARM COMBINE FOR WELL TIMED VICTORY IN 1:21.04
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 25, 2016)–Spendthrift Farm’s Lord Nelson kept to his task and defeated a tenacious Subtle Indian by a half-length in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Lord Nelson negotiated seven furlongs in 1:21.04.
Third in the Grade I, seven furlong Malibu Stakes two starts back on Dec. 26, Lord Nelson was subsequently purchased privately by Spendthrift and followed up on an impressive classified allowance win here going six furlongs on June 3–making him a perfect two for two for the new connections.
Breaking from post position four in a field of eight 3-year-olds and up, Lord Nelson sat a close second to Subtle Indian to the quarter pole, but it appeared Subtle Indian, ridden by Mike Smith, had plenty left with a sixteenth of a mile to go as he held a one length advantage.
“That was pretty game,” said Baffert. “I didn’t think he was going to get there. He was trying so hard there at the end. It was pretty exciting to watch, more exciting to win. He’s come back so strong this year. That break really helped him. I think this is his distance…”
The second choice in the wagering at 2-1, Lord Nelson paid $6.20, $3.80 and $2.60. With the winner’s share of $180,000, he increased his earnings to $598,271. A winner of the Grade II San Vicente as a 3-year-old, the 4-year-old Pulpit colt improved his overall record to 11-5-1-1.
“I knew Subtle Indian was the only speed in the race so I wanted to make sure I broke good and got my horse into the race right away,” said Bejarano. “I found my position and then just waited for (favored) Kobe’s Back. When I saw him coming at the three eighths, I just went for it and tried to get the jump on him because he was really running.”
Ridden to perfection by Smith, Subtle Indian, who tired late to run second here in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Kona Gold Stakes on May 21, ran a tremendous race, finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of Kobe’s Back. Off at 5-2, Subtle Indian paid $4.60 and $3.40.
“I tried to nurse him along (22.58, 45.52 and 1:09.18) without taking anything away from him that was coming easily for him,” said Smith. “He was able to relax and I was really happy with the way he did. You have to give it to Lord Nelson. He ran a great race.”
Kobe’s Back, who broke in his customarily slow fashion, was into contention much sooner today and finished third, a half length in front of Home Run Kitten. Off at 9-5, he paid $2.60 to show.
“I was wide around the turn and the pace was extremely slow for these kinds of horses,” said Stevens. “The track has been favoring speed all day long and my move was a bit premature and a bit wide.”
Baffert, who first won the Triple Bend in 1996 at Hollywood Park with Letthebighossroll, collected his fifth career win in the prestigious sprint fixture, while Bejarano got his first Triple Bend win.