ARCADIA, Calif. -- Conveyance had to work harder than expected, but still was able to remain unbeaten when stretching out around two turns for the first time in the Grade 3, $100,000 San Rafael Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Santa Anita.
The San Rafael was the first two-turn graded stakes of the meet for Kentucky Derby prospects.
Conveyance ($2.60) was heavily favored against four seemingly overmatched rivals, but he was sternly challenged by the former claimer Cardiff Giant on the final turn and only put him away with less than a furlong remaining. Conveyance also switched back to his left -- or improper -- lead while appearing to lug in through the final 150 yards.
But his latent ability enabled Conveyance to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Cardiff Giant. Domonation closed steadily to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Cardiff Giant. Lucky Rave and Via Verde completed the order of finish.
Conveyance looked like the lone speed of the race and led virtually every step of the way under jockey Garrett Gomez. He set an even pace throughout, with quarter-mile splits of 24.45 seconds, 48.56, and 1:12.69 en route to a final time of 1:36.45 for one mile on Pro-Ride.
Gomez said he let Cardiff Giant come up inside Conveyance on the far turn because "I just didn't want to be right on top of the fence."
"It doesn't seem like the place to be the last week or so," Gomez said.
Bob Baffert trains Conveyance, a gray colt by Indian Charlie who won two starts going six furlongs prior to the San Rafael. The San Rafael marked his first start for Zabeel Racing, which purchased Conveyance after his second start from the Thoroughbred Legends syndicate.
Baffert said Conveyance was "tired, green in the stretch."
"He'll improve a lot off that," Baffert said. "He probably wants to roll early. I think Garrett likes to test these horses out. That was a good fitness test."
Gomez also rides divisional leader Lookin At Lucky for Baffert.
Baffert said he had yet to decide where Conveyance would run next.