PLEASANTLY PERFECT’s Nonios announced his arrival on the sophomore scene with an eye-catching win in Sunday’s G3 Affirmed H. at Betfair Hollywood Park as horses with connections to Lane’s End filled the first three spots in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Green B. Smith Jr.’s Nonios, bred by Hermitage Farm and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won his first two starts in impressive fashion at Golden Gate and entered the Affirmed off a strong third to subsequent Grade III winner Hudson Landing in an optional claimer up north.

Facing a deep field that included Grade 1 winner Liaison and CANDY RIDE (ARG)’s TDN Rising Star Holy Candy, Nonios saved ground, came around the tiring pacesetter in upper stretch and unleashed a big kick to beat Liaison on the square by a half-length. Holy Candy, making his first start since a good fourth in the G1 Blue Grass S., ran on well for third.

“I thought this horse could run for a long time,” said Hollendorfer. “He should be undefeated. He was very unlucky to lose at Golden Gate when he ran against older.” The typically cautious Hall of Famer added, “We have a long year left with this horse. All the Triple Crown races are gone, but there are other very important races around the country and also here in California.”

The weekend also saw CITY ZIP register a new stakes winner. His 3-year-old daughter Dene Court “put on a show of grit and heart,” according to the TDN, while winning the $111,000 Alywow S. at Woodbine in wire-to-wire fashion. BELONG TO ME’s Man Stuff dead-heated for third.

Also, congratulations to the connections of Sunday’s $2.5 million G1 Yasuda Kinen winner Strong Return (Jpn) in Japan. The son of Symboli Kris S was produced by SMART STRIKE’s daughter Caught Out, who was campaigned by Will Farish and sold as a broodmare prospect, carrying the future millionaire Daiwa Mach One (Jpn) (LANGFUHR), by Lane’s End for $400,000 at the 2004 KEENOV sale.

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