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Essential Wager earns hard-fought Palos Verdes S. (G3) win
Saturday, January 29, 2022

Essential Wager made a big splash in his stakes debut Saturday at Santa Anita Park, taking the $200,000 Palos Verdes S. (G3) by a neck over Shooters Shoot.

The 4-year-old Bob Baffert trainee came into the six-furlong race off of maiden and allowance wins, and proved he was up to the task with the step up in class.

Facing four foes, including stablemate Cezanne, Essential Wager battled for the lead early on with Team Merchants. After a half-mile in :45.17, Essential Wager edged clear, then held off the late charge of Shooters Shoot to finish up in 1:09.95 on a fast track. Cezanne closed from last to be third.

“This horse is getting better and better, he had trained really well,” said Baffert. “With Cezanne, I think it was a little too short for him. All of Essential Wager’s races have been pretty impressive and actually, he’s bred not to be a sprinter. [Rider] Abel [Cedillo] did a great job, got him outta there and held off those horses pretty well. You know, he took a lot of heat early and kept going.”

"We're going to let Bobby do what he wants with him," added co-owner Mike Pegram, "but I think he can probably get two turns, it looks like."

Pegram owns Essential Wager with long-time partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. The colt is now three-for-four with earnings of $207,200.

Baffert 2013