Deftly handled by Rafael Bejarano, Lord Nelson sat a close fourth with a quarter mile to run and surged late for a neck victory in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes.
Conditioned by Bob Baffert, Lord Nelson got the distance in 1:22.15.
Heavily favored Texas Red, who hadn’t run since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was last in a field of six turning for home behind pedestrian splits of :23.08 and :45.98. He split horses two paths off the rail inside the furlong pole, stuck his head in front between calls and just missed in a big effort.
Breaking from the rail, Bejarano bided his time around the far turn behind a three-horse spread consisting of Serbian Syclone, Jazzy Josh and Sir Samson. Turning for home, Bejarano swung four-wide and overhauled “Red” right on the money.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Bejarano. “he broke a little slow but then he took off and I was able to find a position right away. I knew they were going to have speed so I let them go and tried to save ground around the turn.
“I let him go once we were clear…Texas Red was the horse to beat and I was waiting for him. When he came to us I let him go and my horse took off again.”
The second choice in the wagering at 9-5, Lord Nelson paid $5.80, $2.60 and $2.20.
A Kentucky-bred colt by Pulpit out of the Seeking the Gold mare African Jade, Lord Nelson notched his third win from five starts for his owners, the Peachtree Stable. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $249,571.
“I was concerned about the one hole, but they were going easy and he was behind them,” said Baffert. “He had him going nice and easy and he went wide and looked like he was sort of hanging. I saw Desormeaux’s horse coming up the rail and I thought, ‘Well, he’s gone.’ But he sort of kicked back in. Coming up to this race he was training really well, but sometimes they’ll do that and won’t run. But he ran like he’s been working.”
Trained by Keith Desormeaux and off at 3-5, Texas Red finished three quarters of a length in front of Sir Samson and paid $2.20 and $2.10.
“It’s a little disappointing, you know, ‘cause it’s so close to winning, but the long-term goal is well within reach,” said Desormeaux, who purchased the chestnut son of Afleet Alex on behalf of his owners for $17,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. “The pace was slow. They go faster for maiden 30's, so you’d have seen a more visible cut if the pace was quicker."
“Right now…he’s probably going to go to the Risen Star, and then we’ll come back for the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.”
Sir Samson, who was ridden by Joe Talamo, was off at 23-1 and finished third, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Bench Warrant and Tyler Baze. Sir Samson paid $3.40 to show.
Edited Santa Anita release