I wish I could start this off with, " We have reached the half way mark of the current Golden Gate Fields meeting”, but darn it, I missed it by a week. Oh well, close enough, eh? Let’s pretend shall we?
We have reached the half way point of the current Golden Gate Fields meet and I think there is no better time to give you a few of my thoughts heading into the final 48 days of racing. Lets see…what’s on my mind.
The biggest news coming into the meet was the question of when would Russell Baze (above) hit the 12,000 win mark ? Well, half way through the meet, it appears it won’t be during the current season.
Russell started out the meet hot, but as of late, has had a tough time of it. He still leads the GGF standings with 81 wins, but he has won with just 6 of his last 40 mounts. In my opinion, Baze is still riding at a high level, but the success of Dennis Carr and recent return of Juan Hernandez, has helped limit the number of Baze wins. As a rule, Hernandez and Baze don’t ride for the same people too much, but Juan has won 7 of his last 20 mounts. Dennis Carr does compete with Baze for the same mounts, and Carr’s 10-for-22 streak has added to the competition.
With 48 racing days left in the meet, Baze is still 115 wins shy of the magic mark. While possible, it is very unlikely to happen before the June 16th closing day, especially running seven races a day on Thursdays and 7 or 8 a day on Fridays.
The fair circuit begins June 19th at Pleasanton, and after three weeks heads to Sacramento. A quick 10 day meet there leads to the Sonoma Country Fair before returning to Golden Gate for a month long summer meet. Let me look in my crystal ball….…barring injury, hmm lets give him 70 more wins at the meet, add 25 more through Pleasanton and Sacramento…lets see that’s five…. seven plus two .. is..tada...95 wins.
That leaves him 20 short and a three week meet at Santa Rosa could produce the record, quite possibly on, how about August 10th!
Last year the El Camino Real Derby drew interest when its winner, Daddy Nose Best went on to run in two of the triple crown races. This year, the field was not as strong as was hoped and we will see what becomes of its participants. This weekend will tell us all we want to know about the race.
Winner Dice Flavor is in Dubai getting ready to run in the $2 million UAE Derby at Meydan. Like Golden Gate, it features the Tapeta surface which obviously, he liked. Runner up Ninas Dragon, who hails from the GGF barn of Lloyd Mason, is on his way to New Orleans for the $1 Million Louisiana Derby.
Nina's Dragon (left) has run just 4 times, with a win, a second and two thirds. The El Camino Real (1 1/8) was the first time he went around two turns and he closed from 8th at the half mile mark to finish strongly down the lane, losing by almost four lengths.
The Louisiana Derby seems like a tall order for the Mason charge but consider this. He will have his regular rider, as Julien Couton will make the journey with him, and his style of sit and pounce should work well when trying the distance. He definitely won’t be among the favorites but he sure is worth a look as a late closer that could make his presence felt. That’s all I have for now.