10/08/2016 6:11PM

Lord Nelson closes strong to win Sprint Championship

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Benoit & Associates
Flavien Prat rides Lord Nelson to a 2 1/2-length win in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Lord Nelson trailed pacesetter All Run by a few lengths in early stretch of Saturday’s $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship when he switched leads effortlessly and began to reduce the margin.

“That’s when he started running,” jockey Flavien Prat said. “He took off.”

Lord Nelson ($3) zoomed past All Run in the final furlong to win the Santa Anita Sprint Championship by 2 1/2 lengths for his third consecutive victory in a Grade 1 race. The win confirmed Lord Nelson’s status as a leading contender for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 5.

Lord Nelson ran six furlongs in 1:08.80.

“He’s got a big turn of foot,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

All Run, a 23-1 shot who set a torrid pace of 21.37 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 43.83 for a half-mile, held second, finishing 3 3/4 lengths in front of Jazzy Times, the 3-2 second choice. Cautious Giant and Anytime Anyplace completed the order of finish.

Lord Nelson was such a heavy favorite that he attracted $699,812 of the $752,109 bet to show, resulting in a minus pool of $144,602.

Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Lord Nelson won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs here June 25 and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at six furlongs at Del Mar on July 31. A 4-year-old by Pulpit, Lord Nelson has won 7 of 13 starts and has earned $958,271.

Lord Nelson trailed All Run by two lengths on the backstretch and rallied wide in the stretch.

The Santa Anita Sprint Championship was All Run’s best result in a stakes and could lead to a start in the BC Sprint, trainer Richard Baltas said.

“He ran a helluva race,” Baltas said. “This was kind of a last-minute thing.”

Owned by Durwood Ashcroft, All Run was second in a $20,000 claiming race at Golden Gate Fields in May 2015. If he starts in the BC Sprint, All Run will be an outsider.

Lord Nelson will be one of the leading choices. Baffert knows Lord Nelson needs to be at his best. The Hall of Fame trainer has won the BC Sprint four times.

“The Breeders’ Cup is always tough,” he said. “If you have the right kind of horse, you can do it. He loves this track.”