Lord Simba made the rare jump from maiden winner to graded stakes winner in Saturday's $100,000 Los Angeles S. (G3), covering the six furlongs in a very quick 1:08.74.
Carry the same silks as Baoma Corporation's Drefong, who Bob Baffert trained to a win in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), Lord Simba came into the Los Angeles off an eight-length maiden special weight win last month.
With just a four-horse field, Martin Garcia kept Lord Simba right next to early leader Kentuckian for the backstretch run. Lord Simba headed the pacesetter after a half-mile in :44.73, then got some pressure from Eastwood in upper stretch before Lord Simba began to pull clear in the final furlong to win by 2 1/4-lengths.
“He ran second to one of my other horses (in a maiden race) and then he came back last time out and won by eight,” said Baffert. “Anytime you win a maiden race by that much here you know you have something special.
“He’s been training really well and I knew this race was coming up light with no heavy hitters so I didn’t think I needed to wait for an allowance race. With the way he was training we wanted to take a shot and it looks like it was the right choice.”
Lord Simba, 4, is now 2-3-0 in five starts and has earned $121,200.