Race of the Week 2017

Is Nonios flying under the Radar in the 2013 Handicap Division?

Unfortunately, this year’s sophomores have not given me many reasons to stay optimistic toward the future. Every time I found a horse I liked, I did not get to enjoy the best they had to offer before injury or illness robbed them of their potential.  Perhaps I was spoiled after 2011 when I got to see many of my favorites return as 4-year-olds and improve upon their talent they showed the previous year. But this year, like many fans, I was humbled.


So when I find a horse that meets my hopes as a racing fan, I have learned to become cautiously optimistic. But no matter how much my head tells me to tread lightly onto the bandwagon of another upcoming prospect, my heart overrides. When I find myself heartbroken over the early departure of racing talent, I am left with a void that must be filled.


This weekend I watched a horse that left me with a little less vacancy. Nonios has been one I have kept my eye on throughout the year, but has always been in the shadow of someone bigger. Before the Breeders’ Cup, I was at the rail at Golden Gate Fields with HRN’s own Don August (Bay Area Backstretch), and asked him who his hopefuls were for the upcoming races at Santa Anita.  We went through to common marquee names, but then came across hometown hero, Nonios. We spent some time discussing whether he best fit in the Dirt Mile or the Classic. At the time I considered him a possibility to have some influence, but not a major player.


Perhaps I was nervous to let my brain latch on to another three year old.  There was some hesitation to admit the obvious talent of another three year old. After Saturday’s Native Diver, I not longer need to rely on my head to make a conscious decision. My heart has made it for me. Nonios is now one of my top hopefuls for the handicap division moving into next year.


Nonios, by Pleasently Perfect, out of the Touch Gold mare Stylish Manor has become a late blooming dash of hope to save the “glass bottle” reputation of this year’s three year olds. Beginning his career at Golden Gate Fields for Jerry Hollendorfer, he showed promise with two wins and a show. It was then onto stakes competition, stretching out for a win in the Affirmed Stakes. With no rest for the weary, Hollendorfer continued his ascent in company with the Swaps Stakes followed with 4 straight grade ones.


The first grade one was the Haskell, which will best be remembered for Paynter’s dominance. Poor Gemologist was tag teamed for nearly a mile with Paynter on the outside and Nonios on the inside. After Paynter made his move to the lead, I was surprised at how much Nonios was opening on the rest of the field. He showed his resilience to a fast pace and constant pressure.


Following his career worst 5th place in the Travers, the Awesome Again Stakes showed that Nonios can bounce back as an undiscouraged fighter. There was no catching Game on Dude that day, but for his first crack at older horses, Nonios passed the test with flying colors. Again he separated himself from rest of the field, finishing 4 ½ lengths clear of 3rd place closer Richard’s Kid.


Having not visit the winners circle since the Affirmed, I find something in Nonios that I saw in the recently retired Shackleford.  \He may not win every start, but when he runs, he leaves it all on the track. There has never been a circumstance when I can say Nonios didn’t show up to compete. He doesn’t quit. And in his latest start he showed a new characteristic: toughness. 


In the Native Diver I watched Game on Dude bust through Nonios like a fullback throwing a lead block. The contact between Game on Dude and Nonios made me cringe.  Granted, it was not violent shove, but I instantly had a flashback of every three year old that had departed the sport far too early. But to my surprise, Nonios only seemed to be infuriated by the bump and battled for the next mile only to come up short at the finish.


Nonios is still young, never raced as a 2 year old, and after 10 races in as many months, he has shown steady improvement and gained the experience he needs to become a factor in the handicap division. Game on Dude may have had his number this year, but I am willing to bet it will take more than pushing and shoving to remain the king of So Cal in 2013.


Photo Courtesy of Benoit Photos


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Older Comments about Is Nonios flying under the Radar in the 2013 Handicap Division?...

Like I explained before, when reviewing a race, I look at peformances and never look at a horse's name, the rider or the trainer. so I just bet the competitive performance and do not give a hoot which horse has that or not.
hangers on. Horses through means of randomness that hang on to the underside of race results. If these were standardbreds one would say that they were dragged to a faster time than they would have been able to produce on thier own.
No--now you are exaggerating your non-appreciation of him. Moving on.
might be top dog in an allowance race at Beaulah
Nonios is not a dog, unless you meant he could be top dog--in a positive way.
from what animal does the sound usually eminate?
In the series Brian mentioned, rather.
First, I hope "WOOF" is a positive comment about Nonios, and second, yes, he is as wonderful as you think he is, Matt S. I'm looking forward to him running in that series you mentioned. P.S. No, he's not flying under the radar anymore, so there go his odds.
He certainly ran huge in the Native Diver. Hopefully he stays sound and can dance plenty more dances because the sport needs more handicap division horses won can compete at 9+ furlongs
I agree, Matt, Nonios has some appeal. I met him on the backside before the Haskell and he was a cool horse. He sure needs to start winning some races, though, and I hope that happens in 2013.
in a word:WOOF
On the one hand, I believe this last one was his best race yet. On the other hand, the horse I played in the Haskell has now lost six straight, which were also his six toughest races as far as competition. On the third hand, he may well be the horse to beat in Santa Anita's upcoming Strub series. I hope he keeps progressing like his sire.

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