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Into Mystic, Geroux perfect in Nelson J. Menard Memorial

Marcus Hersh | Jan 09, 2021

Into Mystic wins the Nelson Menard 1-9-2021

Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.In Mystic returned $4.60 in winning the Nelson J. Menard Memorial Stakes on Saturday.

Into Mystic got too much of the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and too little of it last month in the Richie Scherer Memorial. On Saturday, she got a perfect trip under Florent Geroux and rewarded her many backers with a win in the $75,000 Nelson J. Menard Memorial Stakes.

Into Mystic sat on the fence as Elle Z laid down splits of 22.56 and 46.81 in this 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, angling outside past the furlong grounds, collaring the game pacesetter, and going on to win by one length.

Change of Control, who loomed in midstretch, lost her momentum late but held well enough for third as second choice Play On, off a good pressing trip, faded to finish fifth behind late-running Winning Envelope, who took a solid bump at the start.

Into Mystic ran 5 1/2 furlongs on “good” turf in 1:04.53 and paid $4.60 to win. Brendan Walsh trains Into Mystic, a 5-year-old daughter of Into Mischief and the Medaglia d’Oro mare Loveofalifetime, for George Coleman and Brad King. The mare was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay and sold as a 2-year-old in training for $650,000.

That is a large chunk of cash for a horse who, just last year, raced in an 870-yard mixed-breed race at Los Alamitos. Into Mystic prior to that “hook” race had been campaigning on the New Mexico circuit, but after rejoining the California stable of trainer Jeff Mullins she was switched to turf and finished a good fourth May 25 at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes.

It was after that start Into Mystic was moved to Walsh’s barn in Kentucky, where, in her first race, she won a turf-sprint stakes at Ellis Park. Into Mystic was beaten a nose in a Keeneland October turf-sprint race, earning a start in the BC Turf Sprint, where she contested a heated pace and faded to 12th.

Taking a class drop in December at Fair Grounds, she raced several lengths off Elle Z’s pace and couldn’t close the gap on a turf course favoring front-runners at the time.

On Saturday, Into Mystic broke alongside Elle Z and would have dueled inside her for the lead, but Geroux eased her off the pace to track from the rail as Play On came up to play the pace-pressing role. At the 5/16 pole Change of Control ranged outside Into Mystic as Geroux bided his time, and when Play On couldn’t keep up with Elle Z at the furlong grounds, it opened a seam for Into Mystic to tip out and attack. Elle Z initially battled back before succumbing in the final yards, Into Mystic winning going away.

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