Heavily favored Lord Simba pressed the early pace and went on to a dominating 2 ¼ length win under Martin Garcia in Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Los Angeles Stakes at Santa Anita, as he covered six furlongs in a snappy 1:08.74. Trained by Bob Baffert, the lightly raced 4-year-old colt served notice he could be a sprinter of national renown for the remainder of the year.
“He ran second to one of my other horses and then he came back last time out and won by eight,” said Baffert. “Anytime you win a maiden race by that much here, you know you have something special. He's been training really well and I knew this race was coming up light with no heavy hitters, so I didn't think I needed to wait for an allowance race…
“From Martin's body language, I could tell he was confident the whole way. You never know what they're going to do when they take a step up in class so it was nice.”
Fresh off an eight length maiden triumph going six furlongs here on March 19, Lord Simba was hammered down to odds of 1-2 in a field of four older horses and paid $3.00 and $2.40, with no show wagering.
“He ran exactly the way I thought he would,” said Garcia, who was also aboard for the maiden win. “I didn't want to take his speed away from him, so we pressed that other horse (Kentuckian, who broke from the rail). When I asked him to run, he took off like we just got started.”
Owned by Baoma Corportation, the Kentucky-bred son of Discreet Cat improved his overall record to 5-2-3-0 and with the winner's share of $60,000, nearly doubled his earnings to $121,200.
Richard Mandella's Eastwood, who broke from the far outside and loomed a menacing third at the quarter pole, was clearly second best, as he finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of Grazen Sky. Ridden by Norberto Arroyo, Jr., Eastwood was off at 5-1 and paid $4.20 to place.
Grazen Sky, ridden by Edwin Maldonado, finished third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Kentuckian, who tired badly under Stewart Elliott.
Fractions on the race were 21.86, 44.73 and 56.53.
First post time for a nine-race card on Easter Sunday at Santa Anita is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
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