Mike Willman Notes
A 10 ¼ length winner of the Grade II Best Pal Stakes in his second career start, and third in both the Grade III Gotham Stakes and Grade I Santa Anita Derby last year, OXO Equine’s Instagrand, who was most recently third as the 9-5 favorite in a one mile allowance here Jan. 1, drilled six furlongs out of the gate Saturday in 1:16.60 as he preps for next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
“I know the time is slow, but to be honest, the track was pretty slow (yesterday),” said Don Chatlos, former assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, who has been Instagrand’s trainer of record for his last two starts. “When the track is slow like this, my exercise riders know it and there’s no point in trying to make something happen with the time…He galloped out good and he got out of it what he needed to.
“His first race with me at Del Mar (a fifth place finish as the even money favorite in second condition allowance going 6 ½ furlongs Dec. 1), you can throw it out. He had shipped in from New York and was pulling early, very anxious and he just stopped. His next race here on Jan. 1, Baffert sent a horse and really made him run early, with no breather. “He got a little tired and got beat a length and a half, but hopefully he’s rounding into form now.”