Indian Gracey runs down English Royal

We’ve seen this before.

A Jerry Hollendorfer trained horse zooms down the stretch under Russell Baze and gets up at the wire to win a stakes a race?

Ok, what about this?

A Jerry Hollendorfer trained horse zooms down the stretch under Julien Couton to catch Russell Baze at the wire to win a stakes race.

I know the second scenario is the least favored choice but that’s exactly what happened Saturday when Indian Gracey ran down the pace setting English Royal to beat the favorite by a head in the $75,000 California State Fair Sprint Handicap at Cal Expo.

Baze appeared to be as good as home when he built a 2 ½ length lead in mid stretch but a flying Gracey and Couton came running at the end and returned a healthy $23.60 mutual for Hollendorfer backers.

“The race set up perfectly,” Couton said. “I just laid behind Russell down the backside and down the lane she came back to me. I thought it would be really tight and the leader got a little tired and we just kept running.”


Well this was the first win for Indian Gracey since August of 2011 when she was ridden to victory by then apprentice Kyle Frey. In Gracey’s last start, she finished 4th behind the winner English Royal (sound familiar ? If not go back and read again) That day Baze rode Indian Gracey.

The third place finisher Saturday was Paris in April who came from Boise with jockey Robert Webb. Webb is just 4 wins shy of 1,000 for his career.

New Apprentice gets taste of Sacramento

Arnold Perez, who started his career at Hollywood Park in June, came north this weekend to try his luck at Cal Expo. Having three career races under his belt before this weekend, the 21-year old nearly made the trip a winning one but his attempt to get win number one on Lightning Mcque fell just short when the pace setter he was passed late, by none other than hall of famer, Russell Baze, who won the race by a tight length.

Perez now returns to southern California when he will ride the meet at Del Mar.

"It will be a difficult experience to be riding against the top dogs" Perez said. "But i have family there and some things lined up. I'm as competitive as anyone and I feel this is the right time for me. I'm comfortable and ready."

Walk the Track with Frank

Every day after the first race, TVG commentator and bay area summer announcer and publicist Frank Mirahmadi, took a group of up to 40 people onto the track at Cal Expo. As they all got to fill a vile of dirt from the track as a souvenir, Frank gave them a quick tutorial about racing at the Cal Expo strip and what it takes to make the track ready for the horses for the two week meet.

The track walk was a big success with Frank ending his talk Saturday with “What other track in America lets the fans come onto the track?” and one happy father yelled out “Nobody!”

On Deck
Next week, racing hits the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa for a three week meet (July 25th-August 12th). Seven stakes races are on tap for the meet with the headliner being the two-year old races ($75,000) each scheduled for August 11th and 12th.

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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