Zayat Stables' odds-on choice E Z Warrior, making his first appearance in more than six months, remained unbeaten in three starts for trainer Bob Baffert with a measured front-running victory in the $80,000 San Miguel for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park on Sunday.
Jockey David Flores was little more than a spectator after E Z Warrior broke alertly from his rail post in the six-furlong comeback race to get the lead, riding out the son of Exploit without so much as cocking his whip in a smart time of 1:08 4/5. E Z Warrior won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) at Hollywood Park by nearly three lengths in his last start on July 4.
Sent off at 1-2, E Z Warrior led Colonel Chick and Desert Code through fractions of :21 3/5 for the opening quarter-mile and :44 for the half before drawing away leaving the turn. The dark bay colt came home 1 3/4 lengths in front of Hurry Up Austin, who rallied along the inside for Jon Court to edge Noble Court and Corey Nakatani for second by three parts of a length.
Bothered by sore shins during the summer and fall, E Z Warrior had been working well for his return on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track. He breezed three furlongs in a bullet :34 at Santa Anita Jan. 3.
"I haven’t had a horse do what he did, and he wasn’t even blowing at all (after his work)," Baffert said. "Those are the really good ones. He’s like a freak of nature. It’s hard to find these guys. He’s small, but Smarty Jones was small, and he was a freak of nature, too. We’re hoping he can be the next Smarty Jones.”
“He’s been working so easy in the mornings," Flores added. "I haven’t asked him to do anything, and he’s just been cruising.
"I’ve just been praying that he stayed in good shape and that he would come back healthy. He gives you so much more in the afternoon. He’s going to get better with more distance.”
A $1.2 million Barretts buy in March, E Z Warrior was bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms Bloodstock LP. He is out of Carson Jen, by Carson City. He races for Ahmed Zayat from Hackensack, N.J.
“This is what you’re looking for when you buy a horse like this," said Baffert, who won the 2006 San Miguel with Too Much Bling. "He was coming off a layoff, but we were confident coming in here because of the way he’s been working. I knew he’d have to get away from the one hole, but he’s an incredibly fast horse."
Increasing his lifetime earnings to $135,000, E Z Warrior paid $3, $2.40, and $2.10. Hurry Up Austin returned $6 and $3.40. Noble Court was $2.80 to show.
Desert Code, Colonel Chick, and The Ivan Show trailed.