01/26/2013 7:51PM

Santa Anita: John Scott battles out a win in Crystal Water Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
John Scott re-rallies under Victor Espinoza to prevail by a nose over Huntsville in the Crystal Water.

ARCADIA, Calif. - John Scott needs a fight in the stretch to show his best.

He found one against Kettle Corn in the Harry Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar last summer, a race he won by a neck. He failed to reach the front at any point in his next three starts - the California Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and San Pasqual Stakes - finishing third or fourth in each race.

When John Scott had a two-length lead in the stretch of Saturday’s $100,750 Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita, trainer Carla Gaines feared the race was far from over.

“He likes pressure,” Gaines said. “He likes horses pressuring him. When he gets out there by himself, he pricks his ears.”

Huntsville, who was last of eight on the final turn, rallied to draw alongside John Scott in the last furlong, and even led briefly. At that time, John Scott retook the lead under jockey Victor Espinoza and prevailed by a nose in the race for California-breds.

John Scott ($7.60) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.08.

Huntsville, a 17-1 outsider, had every chance to win. He led for a few strides narrowly, but was caught. Huntsville finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Jules Journey in the field of eight. Big Bane Theory, trained by Gaines, was the 5-2 favorite, but could finish only fourth.

John Scott, a 6-year-old gelding by Bertrando, races for John Harris. John Scott has won 6 of 12 starts and $460,304.

The Crystal Water was John Scott’s second start of the year. He was third by 6 1/4 lengths behind Coil in the San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 5, racing in third or fourth early in the race.

“The last time he was lost,” Gaines said. “They were cruising on an easy lead. Victor had John back pretty far. He was galloping down the lane. He didn’t put in much of an effort. That’s why we ran him back so quick.”

Jordan More than 1 year ago
It looks like John Scott prefers turf and synth over dirt. On turf and synth, John Scott is afforded the opportunity to remain close to the pace, and then turn the race into a steady war of attrition. On dirt, in contrast, he has more difficulty staying near the front given the quicker pace on that surface. And it's not like he has a big turn of foot to rapidly make up ground when off the pace. John Scott is pace pressing grinder who needs a moderate pace, and on turf and synth he is much more likely to get a moderate pace. A real honest sort, John Scott has a chance to make some nice money this year if he is allowed to focus on turf and synth racing.