Nysos puts on a show in the Robert B. Lewis (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— Although he won’t be running in Louisville on the first Saturday in May, Bob Baffert’s Nysos laid down a sizeable 3-year-old marker on the first Saturday in February, as he accelerated off the turn for home and then galloped to a facile 7 ½ length victory in Santa Anita’s Grade III, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Ridden by Flavien Prat and now unbeaten in three starts, Nysos got a flat mile geared down in 1:36.65.
An important prep to both the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies, the Lewis offers a total of 42 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with 20 to the winner and 10, six, four and two points awarded through the fifth-place finisher.
In what is now developing into an open sore for American racing, Baffert’s runners, Nysos and runner-up Wine Me Up, are not eligible for the Derby qualifying points due to the fact Baffert’s runners continue to be ineligible to race at Churchill Downs.
Baffert, a continuing dominant force on dirt, chalked up his sixth consecutive Lewis win and his record 11th overall in the race named for one of his primary clients in the 1990s and early 2000’s, who along with his wife Beverly, owned Baffert’s first Kentucky Derby winner in 1997, Silver Charm.
In his first two-turn assignment, Nysos fell into a perfect trip as both Wine Me Up from the rail and Scatify, from his outside number seven post, were all-out for the early lead. With Mc Vay joining the pace party mid-way around the Club House turn, Nysos sat fourth, about 4 ½ lengths off Scatify passing the half mile pole.
Asked to pick it up by Prat around the far turn, Nysos cut inside a tiring Mc Vay heading to the quarter pole and then tipped three-deep at the top of the lane, inhaling both Scatify and Wine Me Up en route to the easiest kind of victory.
Most recently an 8 ¾ length winner of the Grade III Bob Hope Stakes going seven furlongs at Del Mar Nov. 19, Nysos had won his two sprints by a combined 20 lengths and was off as the prohibitive 1-9 favorite today, returning $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10.
A $550,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase this past April, Nysos is owned by Baoma Corp. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $216,000.
The second choice at 6-1 with Juan Hernandez up, Wine Me Up proved second best, finishing three quarters of a length in front of Scatify while returning $3.60 and $2.60.
Ridden by Hector Berrios for John Sadler, Scatify was off at 13-1 and paid $2.40 to show.
Fractions on the Lewis were 22.81, 46.67, 1:11.11 and 1:23.86.
GRADE III, $200,000 ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES QUOTES
FLAVIEN PRAT, NYSOS, WINNER: “He’s very relaxed, he has a good mind. The pace was pretty hot, so it was good, I gave him a chance and he took the dirt very well. When I called on him, he responded really well.”
BOB BAFFERT, NYSOS, WINNER: “He stumbled a bit leaving there, but he was in a good spot. I knew it was going to be a hot pace. My other horse (Wine Me Up) really hung in there well. Prat rode him with a lot of confidence, he knows the horse well. I love the fact that he has speed and he proved he can do two turns. He has a great mind. He is a really good colt. You can just sit there and push the button at any time. It makes it so much easier for the riders, but I still get a little nervous.
“I liked the way my other horse was running because I thought he was going to run a big race today. Deep down inside I thought if (Nysos) is a good horse he’s going to get it done, and he did.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Baoma Corp.