Florida invader Nessy wins San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita

Press Release
April 22, 2018 07:02pm
Nessy wins 2018 San Juan Capistrano
Photo: Benoit Photo
Ridden with confidence by Mike Smith, Florida invader Nessy ran to his 4-5 post time odds in taking Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita by a measured length while getting the marathon mile and three quarters on turf in 2:48.03.  Trained by Australian-born Ian Wilkes, whose biggest moment in racing came in 2012 at The Great Race Place, when he sent Fort Larned out to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Nessy broke a six-game losing streak in posting his first graded stakes win in his 21st career start.

“This race is all for Ed (Hudon, co-owner and breeder),” said Wilkes.  “The horses went slow enough where he had to beat them, but he’s a cool horse.  He’s getting better, that’s the whole thing about it.  He’s improving.  He’s just five.  He’s still a young horse at this stage for this game, because if we stay in business (keep racing him), he’ll get better as we go on.”

Unhurried early in the run down the hillside course, Nessy, who rated kindly under Smith, was fifth after the first half mile, saved ground to the far turn, rallied three-wide turning for home and won going away while geared down.

The 4-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up, Nessy paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10.

“I was so happy to be able to ride for Ian,” said Smith.  “We go way back, to when he was working for Carl Nafzger in Chicago.  As you know, these owners have always wanted to win this race and they pointed for it with this horse.  I did ride him with a lot of confidence.  I was able to run him up into a couple spots and get him to turn on and turn off.

“He’s a really classy horse.  You can feel him getting into a rhythm and he’s breathing deeply in and out…He’s the kind of horse that’ll run all day and when we hit the wire, his ears were pricked.”

A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Flower Alley, Nessy is out of Ed and Sharon Hudon’s (Sierra Farm) Kris S. mare Flower Forest.  With the winner’s share of $60,000, Nessy increased his earnings to $300,420 while improving his overall mark to 21-3-6-6.

Ridden by Tyler Baze, A Red Tie Day had theft on his mind as he showed the way to the late stages through fractions of 22.85, 48.44, 1:13.01, 1:40.29 and 2:06.77.

Off at 11-1, A Red Tie Day prevailed by a head over Rye and paid $7.60 and $4.40.

California-bred Rye, who was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was the second choice at 2-1 and paid $2.60 to show while finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of the Irish-bred mare, Evo Campo.



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