Sprint specialist Havnameltdown wired Sunday’s $196,000 San Vicente (G2), but his stoutly-bred stablemate from the Bob Baffert barn, Faustin, set himself up well to stretch out next time.
Baffert was virtually guaranteed to win the San Vicente for the 12th time, since he had four of the five sophomores in the Santa Anita feature. His squad was pared to three after he scratched Gilmore, but still enough to sweep the trifecta.
Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman’s Havnameltdown was the most logical favorite. The speedy winner of the Best Pal (G3) and Bob Hope (G3) doesn’t have two-turn ambitions, so this seven-furlong dash played to his strengths. In contrast, the remaining Baffert entrants, Faustin and Fort Warren, were using this as a bridge from sprint maiden wins to routes, likely on the Triple Crown trail.
Yet Havnameltdown was only slightly favored over Faustin as both went off at even-money. The Ryan Hanson-trained Man Child tried to take it too Havnameltdown early, but he wasn’t fast enough to attend for long.
Breaking from the rail with Juan Hernandez back aboard, Havnameltdown was a length up through an opening quarter in :22.46. By the half in :45.46, Man Child was beginning to lose position, and Faustin was advancing. Fort Warren did not appear clued in at the rear, with his head cocked to the right.
Havnameltdown widened his advantage into the lane, reaching the six-furlong split in 1:09.67 while three lengths clear. But Faustin displayed an admirably competitive attitude to persevere in pursuit. The seventh furlong brought out his stamina, and the Curlin colt steadily chipped away at the gap. Havnameltdown had 1 1/2 lengths to spare in a final time of 1:22.29.
Faustin pulled 8 3/4 lengths ahead of Fort Warren, who galloped into third when Man Child faded to last.
Baffert credited Hernandez with getting Havnameltdown sorted from the inside post.
“A lot of horses that get the rail hate drawing it. Juan did a great job getting him back on his feet.”
Hernandez sensed that Havnameltdown wasn’t fully extended.
“I felt out of the gate with the first jump, he broke really fast and strong, then after that I felt like I was just cruising,” the winning rider said.
“He was having fun out there. He was kind of waiting for horses. I was doing the same thing; I was just waiting for him and waiting for the competition to get close to me so I could start making my horse run. At the three-eighths, I felt the pressure a little bit and I asked him and he responded really well. Turning for home, he switched leads, and he picked it up by himself.”
Baffert emphasized the different aptitudes, and plans, for his colts:
“This horse (Havnameltdown) is built for this distance – that’s him, one turn. He will stay one turn. Faustin, he was kind of a grinding slow, he wants to go longer. The other horse (Fort Warren) wants to go longer. You try to get outs into them so they’ll learn and you’ll figure (them out). The other two are ready to go long.
“The problem is that if you break your maiden first time out, you have to run in stakes. It is that way all over the country. Just getting these races into them it is important.
“Faustin, you can tell he is not there yet. Once he goes two turns, you’ll see a big difference in him. He was trying to get there, but he was running against a top-class sprinter.”
Havnameltdown sustained his only loss when second to highly-regarded stablemate Cave Rock in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). Now 4-for-5, he has bankrolled $408,000.
Bred by Katherine S. Devall in Florida, the Uncaptured colt was a pinhooking success for Blas Perez Stables. Havnameltdown sold for just $16,000 as an OBS yearling, but commanded $200,000 at the same venue as an April two-year-old.
His dam, the Put It Back mare Ashley’s Babe, is a half-sister to state-bred stakes heroes Jay’s Way (Florida) and Who What Win (New York) as well as stakes vixen Ayoumilove. The mare is also a full sibling to the dam of Grade 3 winner Two Sixty, who is by Uncaptured and thus a three-quarter sister to Havnameltdown.