Derby Radar: The Great One romps for O'Neill; Fenway last

Derby Radar: The Great One romps for O'Neill; Fenway last
Photo: Benoit Photo

Back in with maidens after being beaten just a nose by Spielberg in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), The Great One graduated in stylish fashion for trainer Doug O'Neill on Saturday when romping to victory in a one-mile maiden race at Santa Anita Park.

Bettors installed The Great One as the 8-5 second choice behind the well regarded first-time starter Fenway for Bob Baffert, who was even-money. Fenway broke sharp from the rail under Victor Espinoza and ushered the field through fractions of 22.91 and :45.76 for the opening half mile with The Great One pressing on the outside. 

As the field reached the second turn, The Great One overtook Fenway for the lead and, after reaching the quarter pole in 1:10.67, it was just a matter of the final margin. The Great One and jockey Abel Cedillo drew off in the stretch and crossed the wire 14-lengths in front of Affable in second. Longshot There Goes Harvard followed in third with Fenway pulling up the rear, 25 1/2 lengths adrift of the winner.

The Great One, who paid $5.20 , completed the trip on a fast track in 1:37.28.

“When we made the lead at the top of the stretch, that was pretty amazing,” Cedillo said.  “This horse has gears.  Anytime you want one, you got it.  The way he won today, he’s a top horse, no doubt about it.”

From the first crop of Nyquist, who won the 2016 Kentucky Derby for O'Neill, The Great One is owned in partnership by ERJ Racing, Train Wreck Al Racing Stables, Niall Brenna, Tom Fritz and William Strauss. He was a $125,000 auction purchase as a 2-year-old.

“I always loved Nyquist and this colt caught my eye when he first came in,” said O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora. “He was very, very green, but we told the owners, please let us take our time with him and we have.  We knew the ability was there.  We have two horses for the Robert Lewis (Grade 3, 1 1/16 miles) next Saturday, but I know Doug wants to try and keep these horses separated as long as we can.  This colt is Louisiana-bred, so we have some options.  We’ll just see how he comes out of this race and then plan ahead.”

The Great One was off the board when debuting on grass at Santa Anita on Sept. 26 and came back to be fourth two more times against maidens going two turns on both dirt and turf. In the Dec. 19 Los Alamitos Futurity, The Great One set the pace until getting nailed on the wire by Baffert's Spielberg. 

About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2021 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.



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