Melatonin, Lord Nelson capture Grade 1s; speed gets better as week progresses at Santa Anita

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 29th, 2016


A pair of Grade 1 races were offered last week at Santa Anita.

Gold Cup S. (G1): Tarabilla Farms’ MELATONIN (Kodiak Kowboy) took a short lead at the top of the lane and gamely held off all comers in posting a 1 ½-length win under Joe Talamo. The David Hoffmans trainee endured 1 ¼ miles on the fast main strip in a strong 1:59 3/5.

Triple Bend H. (G1): Spendthrift Farm’s LORD NELSON (Pulpit) forced the pace to the top of the lane and gradually wore down the leader en route to a half-length triumph with Rafael Bejarano. The talented four-year-old sped seven panels on the fast main oval in 1:21 for trainer Bob Baffert.

Track Stats

From a total of 34 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack, favorites won at a 29 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 68 percent of the wins. Twelve races were won in wire-to-wire fashion (35 percent) on the main track and no turf racing was offered due to the installation of a new course.

Speed was good on the main oval and got better as the week progressed, with five leading at every call on Sunday. For the week, 10 of the 12 wire-to-wire winners did so in sprints.

Meet Totals












97 (34%)

2nd Choices:


64 (22%)

Turf Wire:


13 (15%)

Dirt Wire:


60 (30%)





Thursday (6/23)

3RD – CHALON (First Dude) got the jump out of the gate and never looked back in posting a sharp debut tally for conditioner Peter Miller. The two-year-old filly got her final furlong in a swift :11 4/5 and could be a stakes type going forward.

UNIQUE BELLA (Tapit) got off a bit slow but had run in the latter stages of this dash and should be graduating very soon for Jerry Hollendorfer. The well-meant filly went off at 1-5 at first asking and we have a hunch she will be popular this summer and beyond.

Friday (6/24)

2ND – ARROGATE (Unbridled’s Song) made it two straight and looked the part in the allowance tally for Bob Baffert. The sophomore colt powered home late and while we’re not sure what he defeated, the sharp prospect came home in a rapid :30 2/5 and looks like a stakes horse, registering a career-best 100 BRIS Speed rating.

Saturday (6/25)

4TH – CHASING ACES (Flatter) chased lone speed and fought back after being headed for the place spot in the lane to be a good second. The two-year-old colt should have every chance to graduate next time out for Miller.

6TH – FAMILY CODE (Desert Code) couldn’t catch the front-running winner on a speed-favoring oval but was easily second best. He’s displaying good current form for Robertino Diodoro and we’ll tab the sophomore gelding as a prime player in his subsequent outing.

8TH – We really like what we have seen from LORD NELSON in a pair of one-turn efforts this season and Baffert has options going forward as he points the colt toward either Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) or Dirt Mile (G1).

Sunday (6/26)

5TH – SENSITIVELY (Street Sense) didn’t win this race at short odds but did hang on well after failing to run down the clear leader for Phil D’Amato. The four-year-old is still among the fleetest fillies on the coast.

A Look Ahead

The $100,000 Affirmed S. (G3) on Saturday is the lone graded race this weekend at Santa Anita.