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Indian Firewater tops Baffert exacta in San Fernando

Indian Firewater (inside) and Tweebster fought out the tight finish (Benoit Photos)
Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman's INDIAN FIREWATER (Indian Charlie), best of the rest behind Sidney's Candy (Candy Ride [Arg]) in the December 26 Sir Beaufort S. (G3), capitalized on the scratch of that formidable rival to wire Saturday's $150,000 San Fernando S. (G2) at Santa Anita. With new rider Mike Smith nursing him along, the Bob Baffert charge just lasted by a nose from his rallying stablemate Tweebster (Tapit), giving his Hall of Fame trainer a one-two finish.

"I was just happy to see our two horses coming down the stretch together there," said assistant trainer Jim Barnes, who was deputizing for the vacationing Baffert. "You want them both to win, but that was as close to a dead-heat as you could get.

"At first I thought Indian Firewater won, then watching the replay I thought maybe the outside horse (Tweebster) because it was it was at a different angle, way to the outside. But we'll take it one-two."

Indian Firewater seized command early and established splits of :23 2/5, :46 4/5 and 1:10 2/5. Thiskyhasnolimit (Sky Mesa), who inherited 8-5 favoritism, prompted the pace as Do It All (Distorted Humor), Victory with Honor (Tiznow) and Tweebster all took up stalking spots. Indian Firewater kept responding to the pressure and stayed on determinedly into the stretch, but Thiskyhasnolimit failed to maintain his position and began to drop back.

Meanwhile, Tweebster emerged as the only danger in the drive. Although the gray looked poised to pass Indian Firewater, the longtime leader plowed ahead grimly and wouldn't yield. Tweebster found an extra spurt in the final yards to make it desperately close. The two crossed the wire abreast, but the photo revealed that Indian Firewater had a whisker to spare over Tweebster. The final time was 1:41 2/5 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.

"Going into this race, we thought we'd let him run away from there and if we made the lead, fine," Smith said. "When I came out to the paddock, they told me Bob (Baffert) had called an audible, and there was a change in strategy -- 'Put him on the lead.' Down the backside, he was running easily and he was within himself and breathing really good. I wasn't sure if we won it, because the other horse (Tweebster) was out so wide."

Indian Firewater, the 5-1 third choice in the eight-horse field, furnished mutuels of $13, $6.60 and $4.40. Tweebster, the 5-2 second choice, returned $5.60 and $4 for finishing 1 1/4 lengths clear of Do It All. The third-placer, who went off at 16-1 in his stakes debut, paid $8. The $1 exotics totaled $26.60 (exacta), $315.80 (trifecta) and $917.80 superfecta (7-1-5-6) with Thiskyhasnolimit reporting home another 2 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Paris Vegas (Maria's Mon), Haimish Hy (Ecton Park), Make Music for Me (Bernstein) and Victory with Honor completed the order of finish. Sidney's Candy, who was withdrawn Friday after being off in his right hind, was slated to undergo a nuclear scan on Monday.

Indian Firewater's scorecard now stands at 14-3-6-3, $257,120. Runner-up in the Turf Paradise Derby early last year, the dark bay recorded his first stakes win in the November 18 Nashville S. at Hollywood Park. He tried to go with Sidney's Candy early on in the off-the-turf Sir Beaufort, but was run off his feet and was beaten 7 1/4 lengths in second.

Bred by John H. and Laura L. Mulholland in Kentucky, Indian Firewater was a $400,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. He was produced by Touched (Touch Gold), whose latest offspring are an unnamed two-year-old filly by Master Command and a yearling colt by Harlan's Holiday. Indian Firewater comes from the same female line as Four Flings (Quadratic) and Rugged Bugger (Assert [Ire]).


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