Friday, January 14, 2011
Updated: January 15, 9:59 PM ET
"Firewater" by nose in San Fernando
By Steve Andersen
Daily Racing Form
ARCADIA, Calif. -- The television screen at a certain race and sports book in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, are apparently not of the highest quality.
This was vital on Saturday afternoon for trainer Bob Baffert, who was vacationing at the Pacific Ocean resort with family and friends, but ducked into such an establishment to watch a simulcast of the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita.
In the end, a non HD picture did not affect Baffert's day. He knew he had won the San Fernando when his two runners -- Indian Firewater and Tweebster -- hit the wire virtually together. The only suspense during the three minutes it took to review the picture was which of Baffert's runners had won.
"Who won it?" Baffert said from Mexico, awaiting the verdict. "They've got a pretty bad picture. That was pretty close."
The photo went to Indian Firewater, who finished a nose in front of Tweebster in the Grade 2 race over 1 1/16 miles. The photo presented to the Santa Anita crowd after the race showed virtually no separation between the two runners.
Indian Firewater ($13) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.53, scoring his first graded stakes win. Ridden by Mike Smith, Indian Firewater led throughout, setting an early pace of 23.45 and 46.95 seconds while being closely pursued by 8-5 favorite Thiskyhasnolimit. Turning into the stretch, Thiskyhasnolimit was still second, but began to falter. Indian Firewater led by a length with a furlong remaining, but Tweebster was catching the eye with a wide rally.
"I think one more jump and the other horse had it won," Baffert said of Tweebster. "Tweebster looked like he was running."
Do It All, making his stakes debut in his fourth start, finished third, ahead of Thiskyhasnolimit, who finished four lengths behind the winner in the field of eight.
Indian Firewater races for Mike Pegram, who paid $400,000 for the colt by Indian Charlie at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. Indian Firewater won the minor Nashville Stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 18 and was second, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Sidney's Candy, in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes here on Dec. 26.
Sidney's Candy was expected to be favored in the San Fernando, but was withdrawn on Friday because of concern over a foot.
"The whole key was the Sidney's Candy scratch," Baffert said of the outcome.
Indian Firewater has won 3 of 14 starts and $257,120. For Baffert, who turned 58 on Thursday, the one-two finish by Indian Firewater and Tweebster gives him a contenders for the major stakes of the older horse division in coming weeks.
Not that a Mexican race and sportsbook crowd were that impressed with the Hall of Fame trainer's presence or his horses on Saturday afternoon.
"Nobody knows who I am here," he said.