Mercedes Stable's Twice as Bad, stakes-placed in Florida but on the sidelines since December, showed no effect from the layoff with a three-length win in the $150,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Ridden by Alex Solis, subbing for the injured Corey Nakatani, Twice as Bad, a gray Florida-bred colt by Stormy Atlantic
–Two Bad Girls (by Diablo), made his first start for trainer Vladimir Cerin.
Twice as Bad, a slight 2-1 favorite in the field of eight, forced the pace while three wide, gained the lead midway on the turn and pulled clear while angling in under a brisk hand ride through the stretch. The winning time was 1:21 2/5.
"He's an awesome colt. This was supposed to be our Derby horse," Cerin said.
"I just want to thank him (owner Ernie Moody) for being patient. We buy a horse, he gets off the plane and he's just so sick he wants to die. And I never heard a peep from Mr. Moody or Mercedes (Stable). But he seems to have recovered. And they had faith the whole time.
"Smarty Jones was lucky this horse wasn't fit two months ago," he laughed.
Cerin said he would probably stretch the colt out for his next start.
"He's always given me the indication that he'll go 1 1/2 miles," he said. "And if he can carry this speed, and it's not crazy speed, he sits just off the pace and then he goes. So he looks a little longer, a little better."
Nakatani aggravated a back injury earlier in the day.
"I'm glad I didn't go home early today," said Solis, who was scheduled to ride Siphonizer, the pre-race favorite scratched by Richard Mandella due to a fever. "Wow, this is a very special horse.
"At the three-eighths pole, this horse was dragging me. I really wasn't moving on him, and I just hand rode him down the stretch. He was moving so easy at the quarter pole and I had so much horse, I knew that if somebody was going to come running, they were going to have to fly."
Previously trained by Manuel Wayar, Twice as Bad was a busy 2-year-old in Florida, racing 12 times. His efforts there included second-place finishes in both the Bird on the Wire and What A Pleasure stakes at Calder Race Course. He now sports a 3-3-1 record in 13 starts with lifetime earnings of $196, 280.
Wimplestiltskin, with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, set the early pace with a brisk opening quarter of :21 4/5, but gave was to Evolution for a half-mile split of :44. Soon after, Twice as Bad, moving up on the outside, easily seized the lead as Wimplestiltskin and Don'tsellmeshort, rated in fourth by David Flores, took up the chase. But they proved to be no match.
Wimplestiltskin finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Don'tsellmeshort, who was three lengths in front of Cape Flyaway. Number Juan, Skipaslew, Courtnall and Evolution trailed. Hosco and Siphonizer scratched.
Linda S. Rosenblatt bred Twice as Bad, who was sold for $15,000 as a yearling at Ocala in August 2002.
The winner paid $6.20, $4.20 and $2.80. Wimplestiltskin returned $6 and $3. Don'tsellmeshort was $2.60 to show.