02/19/2012 7:47PM

Santa Anita: Drill regains form, Creative Cause third in San Vicente

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ARCADIA, Calif. –  Drill, who had fallen on hard times since being ranked last summer as the best of trainer Bob Baffert’s 2-year-olds, returned to his best form on Sunday with a hard-fought victory in the Grade 2, $147,000 San Vicente Stakes, nosing out American Act, with highly regarded Creative Cause just a length away.

Drill ($9.60) stalked American Act from second, engaged the leader turning into the stretch, and held a narrow lead with a furlong to go, but American Act came back and made it quite close. Creative Cause, in his first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, ran well in this seven-furlong prep, closing into the teeth of a rapid final three furlongs before galloping out with gusto. He was the 1-2 favorite.

Let’s Get Cracking was last in the field of four. Both Captain Obvious and Smoking G. were scratched on Sunday morning.

Drill was timed in 1:21.28 for seven furlongs on the fast main track. The early fractions of 22.78 seconds for a quarter-mile and 45.83 seconds for a half-mile belonged to American Act.

While the San Vicente was used by Baffert as a starting point for Silver Charm during his Kentucky Derby run in 1996, do not look for Drill to follow the same path. A series of disappointing races over the fall and winter has Baffert inclined to keep Drill around one turn for now.

“I wouldn’t go out and buy any future book tickets,” he said.

“Maybe one turn is his thing now,” Baffert added.

Drill was ridden by Martin Garcia, who won five races in concert with Baffert on Saturday and Sunday.

Drill won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity last summer, his second win in three starts, but then lost five consecutive races, including four straight where he was no better than fifth. He was 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, seventh in the Delta Jackpot, ninth in the CashCall Futurity, and beat just one horse last month in the San Pedro when finishing fifth.

But Baffert pressed on because, he said, Drill kept training well. Baffert said he did go easier on Drill with his workouts leading up to the San Vicente. His final prep last Sunday was an easy five furlongs in 1:02, atypically slow for Baffert.

“I backed off on him. I might have been too hard on him,” Baffert said.

Drill, a son of Lawyer Ron who was a $300,000 auction purchase as a yearling, is owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman.