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Nonios Upends Liaison in Affirmed

Hollywood Park logo.
Photo: Hollywood Park

Making his first start away from Golden Gate Fields, Nonios proved he belonged in graded company with a 15-1 surprise in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park.


Under jockey Martin Pedroza, the 3-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect waited for room while full of run approaching the stretch, found an opening between horses with less than an eighth of a mile to run and held favored Liaison safe.


Owned by Green B. Smith, Jr and trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Nonios, who is out of the Touch Gold mare Stylish Manner, won for the third time in four starts and increased his earnings to $99,000. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in the Grade III was 1:42.99.


The half-length victory was the second in the Affirmed for Hollendorfer, who scored previously with Eye Of The Tiger in 2003.


Nonios, whose only loss came versus older horses in an optional claimer over Tapeta April 7, paid $33.80, $10 and $4.60.


“I saw the tape when Russell Baze rode this horse (a six length win March 10 at Golden Gate),’’ said Pedroza, who had won the 2008 Affirmed with Two Step Salsa. “He was like Silky Sullivan.


“I don’t know what kind of horses he beat up there, but if you watch that horse on the computer, you’ll see what I’m talking about. He’s a very smart horse and Jerry told me to ride him with confidence. In the stretch, a hole opened up and he just attacked it.’’


Wide throughout as the even-money choice in his initial start since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby May 5, Liaison, the 122-pound highweight, paid $3 and $2.40 while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of 2-1 second choice Holy Candy.


The loss was the first in three starts over Cushion Track for Liaison. The Indian Charlie colt won the Real Quiet Stakes and Grade I CashCall Futurity as a 2-year-old for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owner Arnold Zetcher.


“I tried to save as much ground as I could, but it was tough from the outside post,’’ said Rafael Bejarano, Liaison’s regular rider. “It looked like Nonios had a lot of run, so I tried to get first jump. That horse just kept running. My horse had no excuse.’’


In his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes April 14 at Keeneland, Holy Candy wound up 1 ¼ lengths in front of Unusual Heatwave. The show price on the gray son of Candy Ride was $2.60.


Completing the order of finish were Blingo and pacesetter Gun Boat, who is also trained by Baffert. American Act was scratched Saturday.


Earlier in the day, Majestic City, a two-time stakes winner at Betfair Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old, finished third in his 2012 debut for owner Jeff Bloom and trainer Peter Miller.


A son of City Zip who won the Willard Proctor Memorial and Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship last year, Majestic City finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Rauschenberg.


It was the first race for Majestic City since he finished 10th as the 3-1 favorite in the Grade I CashCall Futurity last Dec. 17.


The half-length win by Rauschenberg in the $62,000 allowance was his fourth in five starts on the Betfair Hollywood Park grass. The 5-year-old Grand Slam gelding is owned by Gary Broad and trained by Marty Jones. Ridden by Garrett Gomez, the Kentucky bred covered the six furlongs in 1:08.88. Obviously, the even-money favorite, was a troubled second.



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