Until Saturday, the 5-year-old Hudson Landing was known as a hard trying claimer.
Sure he had won the Alcatraz Stakes back in 2010, but with the exception of a few unplaced attempts in graded stakes in 2011, he has been a pretty consistent performer, as long as he was at the right level.
In fact, his consistency ( 9 wins in 28 races) earned him a popular number at the claim box as he switched barns five times in the past 11 months.
I don’t think he will be up for a tag again any time soon.
Under the guidance of jockey Juan Hernandez and trainer Blaine Wright, ‘Landing pulled of an upset in this weekend’s Grade 3 $150,000 San Francisco Mile, beating heavily favored Jeranimo by ½ length.
Given a perfect ride by Hernandez, ‘Landing settled just off the pace set by longshot Sanger Silver, moved to the lead in mid stretch, and held off a fast closing Jeranimo, who’s jockey Mike Smith left the horse too much to do, having just one horse beat at the ¾ mark. Hudson Landings backers received 19.60 on a $2 win bet.
“I thought we had a great, clean trip and to tell you the truth I was a little worried at the 5/16th mark because normally when he’s up there, he eyeballs the other horse but Juan got to work on him and it was just our day. We’re no-names up here and it’s just fabulous to win.”
After talking to an emotional Wright, I can tell you that he exaggerated when he said he was a no-name. Wright is fast becoming known as a quality trainer in Northern California and his numbers bear that out. His 2012 Golden Gate Fields stats show 26 starts with 18 in the money including 9 wins.
It was the second graded stakes win for Hernandez, who has already established himself as one of Nor Cal’s top riders in a short time. In just his third year of riding, he has 328 career wins, averaging over 134 wins in each of his first full two years.
The win in the Mile was satisfaction for Wright and owner Jared Chappel. The two had been watching Hudson Landing for a couple of years, trying to claim him for 32,000 and 40,000 but each time losing the shake for him.
Finally he was claimed for $50,000 off of a sixth place finish on February 12th , and I guess you can say the rest is history. Hernandez, Wright and Chappel are now 3-for-3 with the gelding and not regretting anything.
“Coming off a pair of wins for $62,000 claiming you have to take your chance as a trainer,” Wright said. “ Yea I was scared of him (Jeranimo) and I should have been, and I was scared of the other 3 graded stakes winners. We were going to be happy running third or fourth but to have this is huge, it’s huge for everybody.”
GGF in Derby picture
When the Kentucky Derby season started, Jerry Hollendorfer had a number of horses that were on the path to Churchill Downs. As it turned out just one will line up next Saturday and it is Rousing Sermon. The longshot will be ridden by Jose Lezcano. It will be Hollendorfer's fifth derby starter. Previously he sent out Eye of the Tiger (12th in 2003) Cause to Believe (13th in 2006), Bwana Bull (15th in 2007) and Chocolate Candy (5th in 2009).
Mario Gutierrez, who will ride Doug O'Neill's I'll Have Another, rode at GGF off and on over the past three with the latest stint coming in 2010.