B. Wayne Hughes' (Spendthrift Farm) Lord Nelson was no more than a length off the pace-setting Subtle Indian in the early part of Saturday evening's Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes, then Rafael Bejarano allowed him a breather. The 4-year-old son of Pulpit came back running in the final eighth of a mile, just thrusting his neck in front of Subtle Indian yards before the wire to win by a half-length. Lord Nelson covered seven furlongs over Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:21.04 for trainer Bob Baffert.
“That was pretty game,” said Baffert. “I didn't think he was going to get there. He was trying so hard there at the end. It was pretty exciting to watch, more exciting to win. He's come back so strong this year; that break really helped him. I think this is his distance, sprinting might be too short for him.”
In his second start of 2016, Lord Nelson broke sharply under Bejarano, but so did Subtle Indian and Ambitious Brew. Those three raced together through the first eighth, after which Subtle Indian skipped out to a 3/4-length lead, angling over to the rail, to cover the first quarter mile in :22.58. Kobe's Back took up his customary position at the back of the field, but was only seven lengths off the leaders. Approaching the half-mile mark, Kobe's Back ranged into contention along the outside just as Ambitious Brew moved up to challenge Subtle Indian. Lord Nelson also moved alongside of the leader, and placed a whisker in front nearing the head of the lane.
At the top of the stretch, Subtle Indian displayed an impressive turn of foot to jump out to a one-length lead over Kobe's Back and Ambitious Brew, briefly leaving Lord Nelson wavering in his wake. Steady urging from Bejarano, interspersed with a right-handed reminder or two, reinvigorated Lord Nelson, and the colt came back to Subtle Indian with a powerful late rush. The lunge was well-timed, and Lord Nelson just got his neck down in front to win the Triple Bend by a half-length. Subtle Indian was second, and Kobe's Back held on to finish third. Home Run Kitten closed to be fourth.
“I was really happy with my trip,” Bejarano said. “I knew Subtle Indian was the only speed in the race so I wanted to make sure I broke good and got my horse into the race right away. I found my position and then just waited for Kobe's Back. When I saw him coming at the three-eighths I just went for it and tried to get the jump on him because he was really running.”
Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, Lord Nelson was a $340,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September Sale. After a five-month layoff from December of 2015, Lord Nelson was very impressive winning an allowance race at Santa Anita by 3 1/2 lengths. Saturday's Triple Bend victory not only his second in a row, but also his first Grade 1 victory. Lord Nelson's overall record now stands at five wins from 11 starts, with earnings of nearly $580,000.
“He's a big, good looking horse and we were looking for a stallion,” said owner B. Wayne Hughes. “He's exceptionally good looking. We'll keep him running, that's for sure.”
Watch the race replay here:
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