ARCADIA, Calif. — Drill defeated American Act by a nose to win the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes and snap a five-race skid on Sunday at Santa Anita, although trainer Bob Baffert isn't rushing him onto the Kentucky Derby trail.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Drill ran 7 furlongs in 1:21.28 and paid $9.60 and $5 at 7-2 odds.
American Act returned $4, while 1-2 favorite Creative Cause was a length back in third. Let's Get Crackin was fourth. There was no show wagering after Smoking G and Captain Obvious were scratched.
Drill trailed pacesetter American Act most of the way until taking a small lead with a furlong to go and barely holding off his rival under Garcia's urging.
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Drill is nominated to the Triple Crown series, but Baffert said he doesn't think the colt wants to run the Kentucky Derby distance of 11/4 miles.
"I wouldn't run out and buy a future book (bet) on him," said the Hall of Fame trainer, who is loaded with other Derby candidates. "He'd have to prove something to me going long. He's one-turn right now. In time he might be able to do it because he's learned to relax."
Drill's co-owner, Mike Pegram, agreed.
"This is a Breeders' Cup horse," he said. "I don't know which Breeders' Cup race. We'll just let him sort himself out."
Drill was trying to turn things around after not visiting the winner's circle since Sept. 7, when he won the Del Mar Futurity against Creative Cause. He was fifth in the San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 22.
Pegram said three of Drill's previous losses were "throw-out" races, but he had no excuse for a ninth-place finish in the CashCall Futurity on Dec. 11.
"He came out of those races really well. He always shows so much energy, he's taken a lot and he's handled it," Baffert said. "But today I could tell he was more relaxed in the race and he got an easy trip. That helps, too."
Creative Cause was fourth in the early going before getting up for third in his first start since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November. He now has $506,000 in graded stakes earnings, all but assuring him a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby.