02/01/2015 6:46PM

Lord Nelson outfights Texas Red in San Vicente

Benoit & Associates
Lord Nelson, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, prevails by a neck over Texas Red in the seven-furlong San Vicente.

ARCADIA, Calif. – After Lord Nelson turned in a disappointing effort to end his 2-year-old campaign, trainer Bob Baffert decided to regroup and start anew, and Lord Nelson took a positive first step on his 3-year-old journey by holding off Texas Red to capture the Grade 2, $200,250 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs on Sunday at Santa Anita.

 Lord Nelson ($5.80), the second choice, got a perfect, stalking trip under Rafael Bejarano, who was riding him in a race for the first time. He sat behind three battling leaders, surged to the front inside the furlong pole after being tipped wide, and just did stave off the late run from Texas Red to prevail by a neck.

 Texas Red, making his first start since his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was last of six early, had to weave his way between horses through the lane, and just did miss at a distance short of his optimum.

 Sir Samson was three-quarters of a length back in third and was followed, in order, by Bench Warrant, Jazzy Josh, and Serbian Syclone, who faded to last after setting fractions of 23.08 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.98 seconds for a half-mile.

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 Lord Nelson completed seven furlongs on the fast main track in 1:22.15.

 “This was a big step forward,” said Baffert, who trains Lord Nelson for John Fort’s Peachtree Stable.

 Lord Nelson, a son of Pulpit, has won 3 of 5 starts. He is 3 for 3 sprinting, but has finished out of the money in his two route races, including a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, his final start at age 2.

 “You can’t count the Churchill race,” Baffert said, referring to the Kentucky Jockey Club. “He was shuffled back early. It’s a throw-out.

 “I like what he did today. He ran like he’s been working.”

 Texas Red, who carried five pounds more (123-118) than Lord Nelson, is now winless in three sprints. He has won twice in three route races, his lone loss a third-place finish behind champion American Pharoah in the FrontRunner Stakes.

“You get so close to winning you’re disappointed you don’t get your picture taken, but how could you be disappointed with that?” said Keith Desormeaux, the trainer and co-owner of Texas Red.

As with Lord Nelson, Texas Red will return to a two-turn race for his next start.