Drill Breaks Through in San Vicente
By Dick Downey
Drill, who'd been through a five-month winner's circle drought, figured things out in the seven-furlong, Grade II San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.
The race lost two horses to scratches, leaving a field of only four, and it was a tactically run race that perhaps put 1-2 favorite Creative Cause at a disadvantage.
American Act took the lead from the gate, and Drill fell in behind him through a quarter-mile in :22.78. Drill kept tracking the leader through a half-mile in :45.83. Let's Get Crackin ran behind them, and Creative Cause, who was taken up slightly on the backstretch to get outside, was fourth
At the top of the stretch, Drill was ever more threatening as he was getting to American Act. Creative Cause had never been very far back but was last of the four.
A furlong from the wire, six furlongs had gone in 1:09.27, and Drill and Martin Garciahad stuck a head in front of American Act. Let's Get Crackin was beginning to regress, and Creative Cause was under pressure from Joel Rosario and gaining despite switching leads back and forth.
A few jumps from the wire, American Act tried to come back on Drill, and Creative Cause, though making a late surge, had come up short. Drill prevailed by a nose, and Creative Cause was beaten one length. Let's Get Crackin was another 1 1/4 length back. Smoking G and Captain Obvious were the scratches.
The final time for Drill was 1:21.28.
After the race, trainer Bob Baffert was non-committal about his next start, but he said, "I wouldn't go out of my way to buy any future book tickets," according to HRTV. On Jan. 20, Baffert said, “I think he likes one turn."
It was the ninth career start for Drill. He looked like a star in the making last year after winning the Grade I Del Mar Futurity in his third outing, but he lost his next five races, including a tenth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, seventh place in the Grade III Delta Jackpot, ninth in the Grade I CashCall Futurity and fifth in the $82,000 San Pedro Stakes last time out.
Creative Cause was a heavy favorite, but it was his 2012 debut off a third place finish in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile three months earlier.
Drill collected $90,000 of the $147,000 San Vicente purse to push his graded stakes earnings to $300,000. Going into the weekend, he ranked eleventh on the Kentucky Derby graded earnings list.
Creative Cause, who had $488,000 in graded money going in, picked up another $30,000. American Act was making his graded stakes debut and earned $18,000.
Drill paid $9.60 to win and $5.00 to place. There was no show wagering. American Act returned $4.00.
Drill is owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. Bred in Kentucky by Stonewall Farm Stallions, he's by Lawyer Ron out of the Storm Cat mare Cat Dancer. Drill was a $300,000 Keeneland September 2010 purchase.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Drill: “We actually thought he was going to run really well last time. Last time he broke a little slow and was behind, then he took him to the outside and then he flattened out.
“It worked out today with a shorter field. He got to the outside where he was clear. Martin did a great job of slowing the pace down. He fired his race, and it’s nice to see him back. We just got the jump on everybody so that really helped. Today he was more relaxed in the race, and he got an easy trip, that helped too.
“I don’t know if maybe one turn (would be his next race). We’ll let him tell us.”
Martin Garcia, aboard Drill: “I don’t know what made the difference today, I guess he just wanted to run. He’s a really good horse, so I don’t know what happened in his last races, but he put everything together today. The finish was close, but I was confident I got the win.”
Jack Carava, trainer of American Act: “He fired back in there (coming again to miss by a nose) and that showed a lot of class, so we’ll see what happens. We’ll have to sit down with the Siegels and kind of analyze the race and see what they want to do.”
Mike Harrington, trainer of Creative Cause: “We got what we wanted out of the race. He’s a route horse, not a seven-furlong horse. We hope he moves forward off of this. Did you see him gallop out? He’ll definitely move forward.
“I don’t know, because I’ve got the other horse (Empire Way), so I haven’t figured that out yet (his next race). It probably will be the San Felipe for one of them, I don’t know which one.”
Joel Rosario, aboard Creative Cause: “Everything set up perfect, but the other horse was much the best today. The last two times my horse ran, he was going a longer distance, but he shortened up to seven furlongs today, and I think that had something to do with it. He’ll have a little time off after this, so the main thing is that he comes back good.
"It looks like my horse wants to go a little bit further. He came back good. He galloped out good."