06/03/2012 7:28PM

Hollywood: Nonios outruns Liaison in Affirmed Handicap

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Benoit & Associates
Martin Pedroza guided Nonios through tight quarters in the stretch en route to victory in the Grade 3 Affirmed.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The return of Holy Candy and Liaision was overshadowed by the winning stakes debut of Nonios in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Making his first start outside away from Golden Gate Fields, Nonios ($33.80) had an ideal trip in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds, closing between horses in early stretch to win by a half-length over even-money Liaison.

The Affirmed was Liaison’s first start since a sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Holy Candy finished third in the Affirmed, 1 1/4 lengths behind Liaison. Holy Candy was fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Nonios ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.99. Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Nonios, a colt by Pleasantly Perfect, was third on the backstretch, tracking Gun Boat. Entering the stretch, Pedroza guided Nonios between Gun Boat and Unusual Heatwave. Nonios was a half-length behind Unusual Heatwave with a furlong remaining, took the lead, and held off a threat from Liaison.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer praised Pedroza’s ride, and the way the veteran jockey found space between rivals in early stretch.

“I got worried when it looked like there was nowhere to go,” Hollendorfer said. “He got lucky and got through the seam.”

Liaison's jockey Rafael Bejarano thought in the stretch that he might be on the winner, but realized in the final furlong that Nonios was a danger.

“When I came into the stretch, I saw (Nonios) and I thought he had a lot of horse,” Bejarano said. “I tried to get the first jump, but (Nonios) passed me. I had no excuse.”

Unusual Heatwave finished fourth, followed by Blingo and Gun Boat.

Nonios races for Green Smith, Jr., and has won 3 of 4 starts and $99,000. The colt was purchased for $73,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ sale of 2-year-olds in training in April 2011.

Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Blingo = Street Life of California
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Nonios was a very well-deserved winner in yesterday's race. Martin Pedroza ran a very smart, patient race, especially as Nonios was boxed in as they came out of the stretch with no opening in sight in which for Nonios to run. Nonios switching gears so swiftly when an opening finally opened as they neared the wire was impressive. Nonios was underated in the race as well - I was shocked that he went off as long as he did at 18-1 when he should have gone off at a much, much more modest price. A very nice win for Nonios. It was nice to see Liaison run a very good race as well. He made an excellent effort in yesterday's race and looked good in his second place finish. It's nice to have him back as well. Good job Nonios and Liaison!
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Watched the clip on utube. Wow, did he ever catch a break in the stretch. If the frontrunners hadn't split, he'd have been stuck for sure.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Not a total loss for Baffert, he got to load in the gate next to winner...
steve Wolfson More than 1 year ago
Perhaps portending things to come? How fitting that winner of Sunday's Affirmed Stakes is by Pleasant Colony's son, Pleasantly Perfect, out of Affirmed's daughter, Regal State!