Peter Abruzzo's Ninebanks, ridden by Ron Warren Jr., battled Nicobar through the stretch of Saturday's $177,500 San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT) before prevailing by a nose.
The winning time for the mile on a yielding turf was 1:37 1/5. National Anthem was a length back in third, one length ahead of 7-10 favorite Ladies Din.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 5-year-old Smokester gelding rated in second behind pace-setting I'madrifter, got through on the inside in the upper stretch. Nicobar, riden by Frank Alvarado, followed Ninebanks through the inside hole after getting a ground-saving trip. He challenged the winner on the inside, but was beaten in the final strides.
National Anthem also used an inside move to get into contention after being unhurried early and was gaining on the top two at the end. Multiple graded I winner Ladies Din, making his first start in 11 months, made a menancing move while stuck wide into the stretch, but flattened out late.
Ninebanks won his second consecutive graded stakes ace on a yielding turf. He captured the Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a nose on March 16. Earning $110,000 for the victory, he now owns a 9-5-1 record in 28 career starts with earnings of $516,793.
Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan bred Ninebanks in California.
The 9-2 second choice in a field of eight, the winner paid $11.20, $5 and $4.40. Nicobar returned $7.20 and $5. National Anthem's show price was $8.20. The $2 exacta was worth $61.80.