Race of the Week 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Bay Area Backstretch

Justenufappeal Scores in the Golden Poppy

Stakes racing made a return to Golden Gate Fields Saturday and trainer Steve Specht was ready for it.

Specht was all smiles when his filly, Justenufappeal, charged down the lane under jockey Russell Baze to win the $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths. He hopes that smile stays through next weekend when he will try and make it two stakes in a row, as he sends out Antares World in the $50,000 Work the Crowd.

But as for Justenufappeal, Specht proved it helps to know a little something about your horse. The Golden Poppy was the first time the three-year-old filly went long, and her first time on the turf.

“I wasn’t as concerned about the turf as I was about the distance, “ Specht said. “You never know until you try it.”

Oh yea, and he also gave Baze a little “heads up” on how to handle the her.

“I told Russell, don’t get in a fight with her. She has a little bit of a light mouth and if you take too much hold of her, she’ll flip her head. He settled her down early which was good.”

Baze, who had ridden Justenufappeal to a win in an allowance race in February, controlled the race when it counted the most.

“She doesn’t like you to mess with her. She gets mad, so you just have to let her run,” Baze said. 

And run she did.

After getting the lead early, she was passed on the backstretch by the Jerry Hollendorfer pair of Alec’s Moon and Seismic Speed. But when they turned for home, Baze re-rallied and went past them down the lane.

“I was surprised when those horses went by me on the backstretch but I wasn’t concerned because I thought they were moving a little too soon on this turf course," said Baze. “She’s just all heart and she has a ton of talent.”

Justenufappeal is partly owned by hall of fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye and when Baze finished in the winners circle, “Eddie D” was waiting on a cell phone to congratulate the winning jockey.

As Baze put the phone to his ear, he said “Eddie D….I was thinking... how would Eddie D ride this horse ?….”

You gotta love inside humor between hall of famers.

Last week also marked the return of 2-year-old races at GGF. But does it really mean anything to win a two furlong race?

In the past three years, there have been 10, two furlong races for the babies between GGF and Bay Meadows. Of those 10 winners, only two (Appealing Resume in 2009 and She’smylittleman in 2008) have won since. In fact, two of the three winners last year, have not run a race since.

The most accomplished of the group, She’smylittleman, has won 6 of 12 races since debuting in 2008 and won $126,330.

So we will now keep track of this years first winner, Steve Sherman’s Daddy’s Fancy.


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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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