Under a well-judged ride by Adam Beschizza, Nitrous was the principal beneficiary of a pace war in Thursday’s $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes on opening day at Fair Grounds. The Steve Asmussen trainee made his move at the right time to put away a weakening leader in Landeskog, and to get the jump on 2.10-favorite Manny Wah who arrived on the scene too late.
Defending champion Bobby’s Wicked One blasted right out of the gate, but Landeskog served it up to him through an opening quarter in :21.52. Bobby’s Wicked One gave way abruptly, leaving Landeskog to keep winging it alone.
The 3.30-1 Nitrous, fifth early with only Manny Wah behind him, advanced into second by the time Landeskog clocked the half in :44.60. That was the key decision by Beschizza, for he was in prime position to overtake the front runner. Collaring Landeskog passing the eighth pole, Nitrous powered away to finish 6 furlongs in 1:09.78 and snap a nine-race losing skid.
“We knew Bobby’s Wicked One was the main speed in the race and he usually sets pretty good fractions,” Beschizza said. “The two of them were going at it early, so I was happy with my position early on. It was perfect for him, as he likes a scrap, and once he set his eyes on the leader, I don’t think there was going to be much getting by him. I’m sure he won’t be done with his winning ways throughout the meet.”
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi liked how the race was unfolding, and where Beschizza placed Nitrous.
“I was pleased when I saw the two horses hook up, and the two behind them seemed to put some pressure on them as well,” Blasi said. “I thought Adam had him in a great spot early. Once he got him outside where he likes to run, he finished up well.”
Manny Wah motored down the outside, but settled for second, 1 1/2 lengths adrift of Nitrous. Mr Money Bags kept on in third at every call. Landeskog wound up fourth, clear of Tringale and the tailed-off Bobby’s Wicked One, who stopped badly for the third straight time. Chublicious and He’s Smokin Now were withdrawn.
Nitrous was earning his first win since the 2019 Bachelor at Oaklawn. A Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred campaigned with Stonestreet Stables, the gray was a promising Saratoga maiden winner who placed third in the 2018 Hopeful (G1). The Tapit colt went last to first in the 2019 Riley Allison Derby at Sunland, but his future lay in sprinting, like dam Speedinthruthecity.
Although Nitrous was able to pick up the pieces in the Bachelor, his deep-closing habits made life tougher for him thereafter. He almost got there in last summer’s Woody Stephens (G1), checked in a distant second to Shancelot in the Amsterdam (G2), and then turned in a series of fourths and fifths. The 4-year-old signaled a change for the better last out in the Oct. 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3), sitting in striking range and rallying for third in a three-way photo. He took another step forward at Fair Grounds, boosting his bankroll to $547,796 from an 18-4-3-2 line.
“I thought his last race was really good at Pimlico, he was unlucky not to win that day,” Blasi said. “He seems to be rounding into form. We always thought a lot of him and look forward to him improving off this.”
The Kentucky-bred is the first foal from Speedinthruthecity, a three-time stakes scorer whose handful of stakes placings include the 2012 Sorrento (G3) and 2013 Azalea (G3). The City Zip mare is also responsible for winning sophomore Speed on Tap, a full sister to Nitrous.