ARCADIA, CA – George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman, and Mark Mathiesen’s Nadal fought gamely along the inside to stave off a stubborn foe and win Sunday’s $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Joel Rosario as the 1/5 heavy favorite, Nadal attempted to take command but was sandwiched between Ginobili to his outside and Party Town on the rail. After running an opening 1/4-mile in :21.81, Party Town gave way, but Ginobili ratcheted up the pressure and took a slim lead heading into the far turn.
The rest of the field fell back and couldn’t keep up with the pacesetters, who completed the 1/2-mile in :44.09 while distancing themselves in the stretch run. Ginobili fought hard along his outside, but Nadal began inching away at the 1/8 pole.
Kept to a drive through to the wire, the Bob Baffert trainee crossed 3/4 of a length ahead in a final time of 1:22.59 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“He broke sharp and he handled the pressure from the outside,” Rosario said. “I was never worried about it. My horse was moving very well and I was confident because I could feel I had a lot of horse under me. He was very impressive. He ran very fast today and he runs like he’ll like two turns, but you never know until they do it.”
Ginobili was 1 1/4 lengths past Fast Enough, who headed last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Storm the Court for third. Ra’ad was 15 lengths back in fifth, while Party Town was eased across the wire to complete the order of finish.
Nadal’s win was his second in as many tries, having broken his maiden locally on January 19 while going 6 1/2 furlongs. The 3-year-old son of Blame has now earned $153,000 and will likely target the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 14.
“Today, I told Joel, don’t get cute, just go,” Baffert said. “We can rate him some other day. They took it to him, but if we’re gonna get beat, get beat. I trained him light for this, so this is my serious work. I thought he was gonna get beat. He got to gut it out today, so he’s got a good foundation now. This should set him up pretty good and I think we’ll go to the Rebel.”
Nadal returned $2.60 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Ginobili brought back $6 to place and $4 to show, while Fast Enough paid $3.60 to show.