Ghostzapper's 3YO Iliad Home First in San Vicente S. (G2)

02.12.2017 -

Trainer Doug O'Neill has won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes for the second year in a row. Last year, Nyquist used the race as a springboard to win the Kentucky Derby; this year, it was Kaleem Shah's sophomore ridgling colt Iliad. The son of Ghostzapper was making his first start for O'Neill, having begun his career in Bob Baffert's barn before a well-publicized split of the long-time owner/trainer combination. Under Flavien Prat, subbing for the “body sore” Rafael Bejarano after a spill on Saturday, Iliad covered seven furlongs over Santa Anita's fast main track in a sharp 1:21.62, drawing away to win by at least three lengths after attending the pace early.

Watch the San Vicente Stakes

Iliad is Ghostzapper's second graded stakes-winning three-year-old colt on the weekend after the unbeaten McCraken solidified his role as Kentucky Derby favorite with a track record score in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3).

Iliad broke well along the outside, but Blabimir rushed up from the center of the five-horse field to take the early lead. Prat was able to convince Iliad to settle just off the flank of the leader, with Aquamarine between horses in third. After a first quarter in :21.89, Law Abidin Citizen rushed up the rail to scoot into second position behind Blabimir, which appeared to upset the race favorite Road to Midway, who tried to rush up on heels between horses and had to be restrained by jockey Mike Smith.

Approaching the far turn, Iliad began to rally on the outside of Blabimir just as Law Abidin Citizen did the same along the inside. Blabimir stayed in front to mark the half-mile in :44.08, but quickly dropped back after that. Iliad inherited the lead, and while briefly challenged by Law Abidin Citizen in the turn, he easily put away that rival and straightened for home with a one-length advantage. Under mild urging from Prat, Iliad drew away to win easily, crossing under the wire about three lengths in front of Law Abidin Citizen. Road to Midway posted a mild rally to finish third in front of Aquamarine.

Bred in Kentucky by Sungyeoun Lim, Iliad was a $285,000 purchase at the OBS 2-year-old in training sale, after bringing $80,000 as a yearling and $50,000 as a weanling, both at Keeeland. The colt won at second asking in December, and the San Vicente is just his third start. The win boosts his career earnings to just under $150,000 for two wins in three starts.

O'Neill suggested that the next start for Iliad would be around two turns in the San Felipe on March 11.

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