Nyquist impresses in fast return; Moonlight Drive, Swift Lady are turf horses to watch for Baffert

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February 16th, 2016


There was a trio of graded races over the weekend of the winter/spring meeting at Santa Anita, headlined by an unbeaten champion picking up where he left off.

San Vicente S. (G2): Reddam Racing’s Champion NYQUIST (Uncle Mo) took a narrow lead at the top of the lane and drove home a 1 ½-length winner for trainer Doug O’Neill. The undefeated 2-year-old champion colt made good in his 2016 bow, getting seven panels in speedy 1:20 3/5 under Mario Gutierrez, the second-fastest running of the San Vicente on dirt.

Arcadia S. (G2): Golden Pegasus Racing and Earle Mack’s BOLO (Temple City) tracked the odds-on choice while second and inched clear in the final stages to post a neck victory. Unraced since July, the four-year-old came back well-prepared by Carla Gaines, stamping himself as one to watch in the Southern California turf ranks, and Flavien Prat guided him through a mile in 1:33 on the firm turf.

Santa Maria S. (G2): Stonestreet Stables’ homebred TARA’S TANGO (Unbridled’s Song) went three wide in the lane and gamely held off her foes en route to a half-length victory for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The four-year-old filly clocked 1 1/16 miles on the fast main oval in 1:44 2/5 with Martin Garcia.

Track Stats

From a total of 43 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 53 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 65 percent of the wins. From 30 frays contested on the dirt oval, eight animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while two of the 13 grassy runs this past week were taken in wire-to-wire fashion (15 percent).

From eight wire jobs on the main surface, three came in two-turn events while the other five came in sprint races. We thought the main oval gave all types a chance throughout the week, and the amount of winning favorites backs up our opinion.

Both turf wire-to-wire winners came in dashes down the hill, and each occurred on Thursday.

Meet Totals












107 (39%)

2ND Choices:


49 (18%)

Turf Wire:


14 (19%)

Dirt Wire:


55 (27%)





Thursday (2/11)

3RD – MY ITALIAN BABBO (Papa Clem) just missed in a tricky spot at first asking and surely could be the one next time with a forward move. The Ricky Agarie trainee handled two turns in his debut well and while the field was not strong, we loved the closing kick and look forward to seeing him on the turf down the road.

5TH – TALE OF PAPA NICK (Papa Clem) got the jump soon after the break and never stopped en route to a nice tally down the hill under Jose Verenzuela. The Richard Baltas trainee has run well at this trip and is becoming something of a specialist at this unique distance.

6TH – ENCHANTING LADY (Tale of the Cat) figured to be tough off the layoff in this allowance heat and the Bob Baffert pupil was much the best in a sharp comeback outing. The graded heroine was part of a swift early pace and closed with authority, hinting she could be in line for a big 2016 season.

Friday (2/12)

3RD – I B MIKE (Sky Terrace) responded in the return to the barn of Mark Glatt, recording a nice victory while leading every step of the way. The gelded six-year-old runs best for this barn and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the California-bred be a major factor right back with similar.

Saturday (2/13)

4TH – SENSITIVELY (Street Sense) grabbed the lead soon after the break and never looked back, posting a 4 ¼-length score with Tyler Baze in the silks. The Phil d’Amato-trained four-year-old looked like her best self in this one and we have high hopes for her this season if she can stay healthy.

7TH – Grade 3 winner CALCULATOR (In Summation) got off slow and was last early, but the Peter Miller trainee got into range at the top of the lane and gamely returned a winner beneath Prat. The four-year-old colt should have gotten a lot out of this performance and might be set for a big 2016 campaign.

9TH – LADY VALEUR (Mulyiplex) really looked the part in her second run on U.S. soil, posting a dominant score in this turf test, and the Paddy Gallagher trainee appears stakes bound after this romp.

Sunday (2/14)

2ND – BRANDOTHEBARTENDER (Tribal Rule) moved into contention nearing midstretch and closed well late to post a solid one-length debut tally for trainer Blake Heap. The three-year-old gelding looks to have topped a decent field of prospects and good be a useful one going forward.

3RD – FOLLOW ME CREV (Quality Road) continued a fine form run with a strong allowance tally, one that could lead to a stakes try very soon. The peaking sort goes for Vladimir Cerin, who can do little wrong at this meeting, and the four-year-old gelding deserves a chance with black-type foes.

8TH – SWIFT LADY (Awesome of Course) proved her recent turf win over a ‘good’ course was no fluke, coming back a dominant grassy stakes win for Baffert. The three-year-old filly toppled a few decent ones with ease and has a lot of options going forward.

Monday (2/15)

3RD – MOONLIGHT DRIVE (Red Rocks) showed a big turn of foot in the lane and rolled home a fine winner in his U.S. debut for Baffert. The sophomore colt will almost surely see stakes foes in his next one after this fine performance.

6TH – Clifford Sise’s RIGHTEOUS RULER (Tribal Rule) took a lot of money in his first race and showed why posting a smart score under Kent Desormeaux. The three-year-old colt won for a barn that never wins first out, so we have to take notice of this California-bred going forward.

A Look Ahead

Saturday will play host to the $200,000 Buena Vista S. (G2), the lone graded race this weekend.