As the calendar turned to 2013 a few nights ago, Golden Gate Fields fans can think back to 2012 and say oh what a year it has been. Lets see, 2012 will be remembered for the year Kyle Frey was awarded the eclipse award for the best apprentice, fan favorite Bold Chieftain ran his last race and began his stud career and once again Russell Baze led the nation in wins. It was the 12th time in his hall of fame career that Baze has been number one in wins.
We also had one of our local horses go nation wide when the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Nonios hit the big stage. In fact, I wrote about Nonios in March after he had 2 wins in 2 starts at GGF. He then went on to win the Grade 3 Affirmed at Hollywood Park, and run 2nd in the Grade 1 Haskell and the Grade 2 Swaps. Not a bad call for a horse that had just run two races.
So now we look ahead to 2013. The easiest prediction centers around Baze. Barring injury, Baze should eclipse the 12,000 win mark in his career as he needs just 186 wins for the milestone. Assuming Baze has his usual three hundred plus win season, he should hit the mark sometime around June. Now we go from the probable to the unknown. Which horses will do GGF proud, perhaps moving on to bigger and better things.
Well knowing horses the way we all do, this can be the trickier prediction. But, I have given it the old college try, and come up with some horses that I think are worthy of keeping an eye on as the stakes season gets underway.
So lets do this.
Greatest Escape – 5, (Game Plan-Mephista by Devil His Due). The Jeff Bonde trainee has been a win machine so far winning 4 for 5 races. Her only loss was a 4th place finish in her comeback race from a 5 month layoff, when she had been sidelined with a skin condition on her foot. All of her wins have come sprinting but her connections are pointing her toward the turf, perhaps as early as her next start.
Zeewat (pictured above) – 3, ( Harlan’s Holiday-Delicia by Distant View). Has won 3 of 5 starts and seems to be getting better every time he goes to the track for Jerry Hollendorfer. He won the Gold Rush and Cavonnier Stakes and ran 3rd in the Golden Nugget and 4th in the Tim Conway Stakes at SA. He seems headed next for the California Derby.
Bailouttheminister – 5, (Ministers Wild Cat- T.G’s Girl by Smokester) He has never off the board in six bay area starts in 2012 and won the Sam J. Whiting Stakes at Pleasanton before finishing 5th in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in Washington. Has been turned out since then (Aug) and just came back to training two weeks ago. Trainer Keith Nations is expecting him to have a huge five year old season.
Control Seeker – 7, (Sought After-Red Table by Red Ransom) He has run 36 times in his career but 2012 was his best. He was 3 for 8 including wins in the Joseph T Grace at Pleasanton and the Bulldog Stakes at Fresno. In his latest, he lost a thriller when Hudson Landing beat him by a nose in the Grade 3 All American Stakes. This is another out of the Nations barn and if last year was any indication, he just gets better with age.
Wildcat Moon – 3, (D’Wildcat-Moonshine Girl by Shadeed). There is plenty to like about this guy. He has run 7 times and hit the board 7 times with his last two being wins. In his latest allowance win, he beat heavily favored Eight Stitches by ¾ of a length, establishing him as a top chance in the Bonde Barn.
Eight Stitches – 3, (Orientate-Love Wings by Grand Slam). Impressive in his debut MSW win but lost a close one to stablemate Wildcat Moon in latest. Despite that, the ceiling is high for this one.
Justalittleloopy - 4, (Kela-Prestigiosa by Dynaformer) The Steve Sherman trainee starter her career in an $ 8,000 claimer but after a 12-length win, jumped right into the allowance ranks and has had two wins, a second and a third her next 4 starts. Sherman admitted he thought she would run well in that debut but was surprised by the margin of victory. Despite her third place finish last week (losing by a head and a neck) he still has high hopes for her to make a name for herself.
A few others that merit a look are Outside Nashville and Broken Sword (Hollendorfer), Sweet Tess (Nations) and Papercoversrock(William J. Morey Jr).
Outside Nashville has won two straight (the last being the Golden Nugget Stakes in November where he beat Zeewat) but hasn’t been seen on the track since then, suffering from a virus. Broken Sword lived up to the hype of his debut when he scored by 11 lengths in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial this summer. But in the weeks following he suffered what was thought to be a minor injury. That injury still has him on the sidelines and it is not known when he will be seen again.
Papercoversrock has run just once but was very impressive winning a MSW by 3 lengths, going a mile in her debut. Sweet Tess was the talk of the track in that same race, but lagged far behind before making a major move in the stretch to run third. Both are looking to be major players in 2013.