O’NEILL’S THE GREAT ONE CRUSHES THE COMPETITION TO TAKE $61,000 SANTA ANITA MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT BY 14 LENGTHS & WILL NOW REJOIN KENTUCKY DERBY TRAIL; RIDDEN BY CEDILLO, HE GETS ONE MILE IN 1:37.28
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 23, 2021)–Still a maiden following a nose defeat in a Grade II stakes on Dec. 19, trainer Doug O’Neill’s The Great One exploded off the turn for home en route to a 14-length score in Saturday’s second race at Santa Anita, a $61,000 maiden special weight, and thus further enhanced his stature as a serious Derby hopeful. Ridden by Abel Cedillo, the bay son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist got a mile in 1:37.28.
With Bob Baffert’s first time starter Fenway, who dominated the wagering as the even money favorite, gunning for the early lead from his rail post, The Great One pressed him every step of the way and was three quarters of a length back at the three furlong pole. Well within himself, The Great One quickly opened up a two length advantage at the quarter pole and widened from there in a tremendous effort.
“When we made the lead at the top of the stretch, that was pretty amazing,” said Cedillo, who although he showed The Great One the stick several times to maintain focus, never hit him. “This horse has gears. Anytime you want one, you got it. The way he won today, he’s a top horse, no doubt about it.”
Second, beaten a nose at 33-1 in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity in his most recent start, The Great One, in his fifth career start, was off at 8-5 in a field of four sophomores and paid $5.20 and $2.60 with no show wagering.
“I always loved Nyquist and this colt caught my eye when he first came in,” said O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora. “He was very, very green, but we told the owners, please let us take our time with him and we have. We knew the ability was there. We have two horses for the Robert Lewis (Grade III, 1 1/16 miles) next Saturday, but I know Doug wants to try and keep these horses separated as long as we can. This colt is Louisiana-bred, so we have some options. We’ll just see how he comes out of this race and then plan ahead.”
Owned by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson’s ERJ Racing, LLC, Train Wreck Al Racing Stables, Brennan, Niall J. Brennan, Tom Fritz and William Strauss, The Great One is out of the El Corredor mare Little Ms Protocol. A $185,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales July 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale purchase, The Great One picked up $36,600 for the win, increasing his earnings to $83,940.
Although trainer Mark Glatt’s Affable loomed a contender a quarter mile out, he never got on terms with the winner and finished second, some 11 ½ lengths in front of longshot There Goes Harvard. Off at 2-1 with Juan Hernandez up, Affable returned $2.80 to place.
Fenway, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, checked in last, beaten 29 ½ lengths.
Fractions on the race were 22.91, 45.76, 1:10.67 and 1:23.69.