Baffert's Lord Nelson upsets Texas Red in San Vicente Stakes

BY foxsports • February 1, 2015

Fans warming up for the Super Bowl by watching the Triple Crown trail action in California weren't disappointed on Sunday when Lord Nelson upset Texas Red in a close battle to win the $200,250 San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Making his first start since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, Lord Nelson went off as the second choice in the race and was able to win the battle for the lead with Texas Red in the final furlong.

The race wasn't all easy going for Lord Nelson, who sat in third on the rail until the far turn. But when he was ready to make his move, jockey Rafael Bejarano had to drop him back and reroute him to the outside so he could get a clear shot. While Lord Nelson was working his way to the outside, Texas Red made his customary move to close from last, cutting through a hole in the middle of the leading pack to get to the lead.

Texas Red looked like he may win the race after taking the shorter route but had to face a battle with the now-clear Lord Nelson. The two were close as they hit the wire, but Lord Nelson had the advantage and earned the win by a neck.

Lord Nelson covered the seven-furlong distance in a time of 1:22.15 with Texas Red finishing second and Sir Samson rounding out the top three. Lord Sampson went off at odds of 9-5 and the victory rewarded bettors with a payout of $5.80 for a $2 win ticket.

"We're trying to get [owners John and Elizabeth Fort] to the [Kentucky] Derby so this was a big step forward today," trainer Bob Baffert said. "The way he ran today ... this horse showed that he's really developing. He's maturing and we gave him the extra time. The race at Churchill was just a disaster from the start so it's good that he's moving forward and we'll stretch him out next time."

If Baffert decides to keep Lord Nelson in California, he could show up in the San Felipe on March 7 over 1 1/16 miles, which is the final California prep for the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. Lord Nelson currently has one point on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and the San Vincente was not a Kentucky Derby points race.

While it wasn't the victory many were hoping for, Texas Red's run in the San Vincente looked to be exactly what he needed to start off the year. Jockey Kent Desormeaux kept the colt much closer to the pace than he had been when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile , although they were still last for the early part of the race, and the colt was still able to close even though the fractions weren't overly fast. If his connections stick to their pre-San Vicente race schedule, Texas Red will be running in the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 21.

If Lord Nelson were to win the Kentucky Derby, he would be the first Kentucky Derby winner to also have the San Vincente win on his record since Silver Charm in 1997. Fittingly, Bob Baffert also trained Silver Charm.



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