Drill remained perfect in three tries at seven furlongs when he rallied between horses in deep stretch to defeat pacesetter American Act by a half-length in the $98,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III) at Betfair Hollywood Park May 12 (VIDEO).
Martin Garcia guided the 6-5 favorite to victory for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, and trainer Bob Baffert while timed in 1:22.88 over Hollywood's Cushion Track. Four 3-year-olds contested this year's Barrera.
Drill and American Act reprised their gritty battle in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in February when Drill prevailed by nose. Only this time, Drill sat a little bit farther off the pace in third before unleashing his big late kick to once again edge American Act.
It seems likely that Drill will remain in one-turn races for now after his latest success, which follows the San Vicente victory and a triumph in last summer's Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) at seven furlongs. Baffert stretched the Lawyer Ron colt out late last year and the results -- a 10th in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), a seventh in the Delta Jackpot (gr. III), and a ninth in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) -- were discouraging.
A $300,000 Keeneland September 2010 yearling out of the Storm Cat mare Cat Dancer, Drill was bred in Kentucky by Stonewall Farm Stallions.
Drill was coming off a runner-up finish to Master Rick in the one-mile Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park April 14 as the 3-5 favorite.
In the Barrera, American Act, ridden by Garrett Gomez, hopped away from the gate quickly and led Gun Boat through moderate fractions of :23.52 and :46.92. Drill, after tugging early, settled into a stalking spot toward the inside.
American Act took a one-length advantage into the homestretch with Drill still waiting for room behind the two leaders. When American Act drifted out a bit, Garcia angled Drill out near mid-stretch and Drill responded to encouragement by rallying between horses and gaining a slight edge past the sixteenth-pole. Drill and American Act battled to the wire with Drill prevailing in a game effort.
"I was just trying to save as much ground as I could," said Garcia. "I wasn't really worried about that other horse (American Act) getting out because he never did that before and I don't know why he did it that day. But whatever happened, I was ready for it. He was really into the bridle today and we were going so easy."
Gun Boat, also from the Baffert barn, finished just a half-length behind American Act in third. Boompa, after breaking slowly, gave way in the stretch to finish last.
Assistant Mike Marlow saddled Drill for Baffert, who won the Barrera for the first time.
"I just talked to Bob on the phone," Marlo related. "He thought (Drill) ran well and Gun Boat might need blinkers, he was hanging a little the last eighth of a mile. But I think Drill is just a better horse. It's a good thing Gun Boat was the other horse, or he might not have let (Drill) out (laughing). Six and a half or seven furlongs may be Drill's best distance. He kind of likes a target, just like he got today."
Drill, carrying 123 pounds, earned $60,000 for his fourth lifetime win in 11 starts to extend his career bankroll to $419,710. He paid $4.40 and $2.80.
American Act was coming off a nose victory in the off-the-turf Harry Henson Stakes at six furlongs at Hollywood April 26. The Jack Carava trainee, also carrying 123 pounds, returned $3.20. The exacta was worth $11.40. There was no show wagering.