Blaine Wright and Alert Bay are striking while hot

January 12, 2015 12:49pm
Alert Bay GGF Don 615 X 400
Photo: Don August

 

Golden Gate Fields trainer Blaine Wright knows how to strike while the iron is hot.


In 2012, Wright guided the popular Hudson Landing to a schedule that included 5 wins including the Grade 1 San Francisco Mile and Grade 3 All American Stakes and a runner up spot in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap.

Perhaps that was a warm up for his run this year with another standout, Alert Bay.

The Peter Redekop B.C Ltd owned gelding, already owns a sterling record of 7 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 13 lifetime starts, with most of those coming in 2014. Wright has put his 4-year old to the test over the past four months.

After getting his first stake win in the Echo Eddie last April, Alert Bay had a few in the money stake performances before winning the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby in September in Canada and staying there to also win the Grade 3  BC Premier’s Handicap in October.

Back to the states he came in November, shipping to New Mexico for a win in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby, before traveling to Santa Anita and coming away with a neck victory in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile.

Now, Wright has set sights on the $250,000 Cal Cup Turf Classic to be run Saturday, January 24th at Santa Anita.

“He has run well on every surface, which for me as a trainer, makes it a lot easier to make a plan,” Wright said. “I don’t have to worry about not running him if a race at a certain track doesn’t  go because we can run him anywhere. He’s done everything we have asked of him so far. He won at 4 different tracks last year and on every surface.”

Wright ran Alert Bay in the Mathis Brothers on December 26th because he said the horse was so sharp, he wanted to see how good he really was. He showed his connections he belonged by running home down the lane to edge out Home Run Kitten in a close finish on the turf.

Alert Bay has run at Santa Anita 4 times, winning three of them, including his maiden-breaker.

“I knew as a maiden he was a decent horse. He was bred for the turf (City Zip out of Hickory by Dushyantor) and his mom was a big distance specialist. Mr. Redekop wanted to run him down south and when he broke his maiden from the 12 hole, I knew he was going to be pretty special.”

The year has started out hot for the Wright barn at GGF , as he has already saddled 7 winners in his first 19 starts to hold the second spot in the standings behind Jerry Hollendorfer.  

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Nations on a roll

In 2013, One of the top trainers at Golden Gate Fields, Keith Nations, moved his barn to Parx Racecourse in Philadelphia. I think its time to update the locals on how Nations is faring.

In the three week old meet, Nations has won on 5 of his first 9 starters. In 2014, he enjoyed a successful run, winning at a 29 percent clip, winning on 26 of his 90 starters. His barn, which started with just 4 horses when he moved, has grown to almost 30 and he is looking at other nearby tracks, such as Monmouth and Laurel, to expand into in the coming years.

Nations will be the first to say how tough the move back east was.

“There were a lot of challenges,” Nations said recently. “ We got here in the beginning of the worst winter they had had in the last 20-30 years. I had to learn how to train in the cold and take care of the horses in a different way. But then Spring came and things started picking up. At first I had a lot of doubts but its something I would definitely do again.”

Nations' barn was in the spotlight last September when it played host to California Chrome, when the star went east for the Pennsylvania Derby.

“It was a great experience, he was such a cool horse to be around,” Nations said. ‘He soaked everything in and basically just owned the place while he was here.”


 

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Meet Don August

I have been involved in horse racing, from a fan to sportswriter, for the past 30 years. The first time my dad took me to the track, I picked a horse named "Black Tornado" and when he won, I was hooked.  From then on, I spent weekends and occasional school days at the race track, and my enjoyment of the sport led me to try my hand at being a jockey agent, which i did for 3 years. When that didn't work out as I had hoped, I concentrated on my writing career by covering big races and doing summer fair handicapping, off and on, for the Contra Costa Times.

Today, I stay involved in the sport by being part of a group that currently owns two horses stabled at Golden Gate Fields. As all owners, we have dreams of someday having that special horse.  Besides writing about horse racing I enjoy covering many sports and have had the honor of meeting and writing about some incredible athletes.

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