By Mike Willman —-
Iliad; All Photos by Benoit
SHAH’S ILIAD IMPRESSIVE IN WINNING GRADE II, $200,000 SAN VICENTE STAKES BY 3 ½ LENGTHS UNDER PRAT; IN FIRST START FOR O’NEILL, HE GETS SEVEN FURLONGS IN 1:21.62
ARCADIA, Calif. Idle since breaking his maiden on Dec. 18, Kaleem Shah’s Iliad came back running Sunday at Santa Anita, as he powered to a 3 ½ length win in the Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes under Flavien Prat. Making his first start for Doug O’Neill, the Kentucky-bred ridgling by Ghostzapper covered seven furlongs in 1:21.62 and thus stamped his ticket to a ride on the road to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
Breaking sharply from his outside post position, Iliad was lapped on longshot stablemate Blabimir into the far turn and shook off runner-up Law Abidin Citizen three sixteenths of a mile from home in an impressive display that left heavily favored Battle of Midway some eight lengths behind at the wire.
“He’s a very nice horse,” said Prat, who picked up the winning ride this morning when Rafael Bejarano was excused off all of his mounts due to a spill in Saturday’s last race. “It was a very lucky pickup mount. He broke well…We were going pretty fast and I was trying to relax him all the way down the backside. When I asked him, he performed so well.”
Conditioned by Bob Baffert for his first two starts, Iliad was the second choice in a field of five sophomores and paid $6.00, $4.00 and $2.20.
A $285,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase in March of last year, he picked up $120,000 for the win, boosting his earnings to $147,345. He now has two wins from three overall starts.
“He’s a really nice horse, he has a lot of class,” said O’Neill, who began training for Shah in late December. “He ran huge today. We’ve just tried not to screw him up. Flavien rode a great race today and got it done. Going seven eighths can be a grind if you break real sharp and try to run all the way (on the lead). Flavien knew what to do and did a great job.”
Shah, who was on-hand to watch his Derby hopeful, indicated plans are to stay home for the time being. “I think we’ll stay here and try to run in the San Felipe (Grade II, 1 1/16 miles on March 11) and then hopefully, the Santa Anita Derby (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles on April 8),” he said.
Trainer Mark Glatt’s Law Abidin Citizen, who drew the rail with Jamie Theriot, was clearly second best on the day as he finished 4 ½ lengths clear of Battle of Midway. Off at 9-1, Law Abidin Citizen paid $6.00 and $2.40.
“I’m really pleased with his race, especially because he just ran two weeks ago,” said Glatt. “I probably wouldn’t have looked at this race if it wasn’t a short field…He (Theriot) had to move a little early down the backside because we were inside. He’s run three really good races since we gelded him (Nov. 26) and I think he’ll stretch out to a mile, no problem.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Mike Smith, Battle of Midway had no apparent excuses while checking in third, three quarters of a length in front of Aquamarine. Off at 4-5, Battle of Midway paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.89, 44.08 and 1:08.52.