06/25/2016 7:56PM

Lord Nelson runs down Subtle Indian in Triple Bend

Benoit & Associates
Lord Nelson provides trainer Bob Baffert with his first Grade 1 stakes win of the season by taking the seven-furlong Trjple Bend.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Lord Nelson gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his first Grade 1 win of 2016 in Saturday’s $301,035 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita.

Winning for the first time at the highest level, Lord Nelson ($6.20) caught pacesetter Subtle Indian in the final strides to win the seven-furlong race by a half-length in a quick time of 1:21.04.

Kobe’s Back, the 9-5 favorite, finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

Lord Nelson, the second choice in a field of eight, was always near the front and took advantage of a moderate pace – for a sprint – to stay close to Subtle Indian, the 5-2 third choice.

Subtle Indian set fractions of 22.58 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.52 for a half-mile, leading by as much as a length under jockey Mike Smith. In the stretch, Subtle Indian extended his advantage to 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, but could not hold off Lord Nelson, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano.

“It worked out well,” Baffert said. “They didn’t go too fast.

“I didn’t think he’d get there. He was game and tried so hard at the end. It was exciting to watch and more exciting to win.”

Smith said he thought he was aboard the winner with Subtle Indian, who won the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at six furlongs at Oaklawn Park in April. The Triple Bend Stakes was the first time Smith rode the 4-year-old Subtle Indian.

“I thought I had it,” Smith said. “He stayed the distance. I was hoping I could get away more than I did. I have to give Lord Nelson credit. He dug in.”

Kobe’s Back, the winner of two graded stakes for sprinters here earlier this year, finished a half-length in front of Home Run Kitten, who was followed by Clever Royal, Ambitious Brew, Cautious Giant, and Coastline.

Lord Nelson, a 4-year-old colt by Pulpit, has won 5 of 11 starts and earned $598,271. The Triple Bend was Lord Nelson’s third stakes win. He won the minor Speakeasy Stakes as a 2-year-old here in October 2014 and the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs here in February 2015, beating Texas Red, the winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Lord Nelson is unbeaten in two starts this year, having won an optional claimer at six furlongs on June 3. Lord Nelson was third in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs last December, but was turned out in early winter. Baffert said Lord Nelson was not training well earlier this year.

“He’s come back strong,” Baffert said. “The little break did him well.”

Lord Nelson was Baffert’s seventh graded stakes winner of the year, and first since Collected won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Lord Nelson, owned by B. Wayne Hughes, will remain in sprints this summer, Baffert said.