Many Roses and G.G. Ryder didn't make it easy for odds-on favorite Alert Bay in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, but the millionaire brought his 'A' game and scored a victory in the $100,225 turf race.
Shane Miceli/Vassar Photography
Heavy favorite Alert Bay scores by 1 1/4 lengths under Juan Hernandez in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile.
Alert Bay's 1 1/4-length victory was accomplished with relative ease despite Many Roses's gallant effort on the lead and G.G. Ryder's strong effort, nipping Many Roses by a nose at the wire.
As expected, Many Roses took the lead, setting solid fractions of 23.81 seconds, 47.71, and 1:10.70. But he was never able to shake clear of Alert Bay, who sat just off him to his outside.
It was Plan 'A' for Alert Bay's connections of trainer Blaine Wright and jockey Juan Hernandez.
"I just wanted to see what G.G. Ryder was going to do," said Wright, whose star runner broke from the No. 6 post while Many Roses broke from post 4 and G.G. Ryder had the rail.
G.G. Ryder has flashed speed at times in the past, but when he didn't, Hernandez had Alert Bay sitting just behind Many Roses.
"It was the plan," said Hernandez. "If nobody would go with him [Many Roses], I had to stay right next to him."
Alert Bay ($3.20) can stalk, but he doesn't mind sitting back a bit early. Wright, though, wasn't worried about having to put some pressure on Many Roses.
"I didn't think that horse could get away from us," he said. "Fractions on this course are usually 47 [seconds] so I knew he'd be right there."
Even though Many Roses quickened during the third quarter, Hernandez stuck right with him even without asking the 6-year-old gelding to run.
"He's a real nice horse," Hernandez said of Alert Bay. "He broke fast, and ran along without me doing anything. He was sitting behind the other horse, and when I asked him, he went by him."
Alert Bay was beginning to edge away at the eighth pole, but Many Roses dug in and even seemed to narrow the margin momentarily before Alert Bay began extending his lead.
G.G. Ryder was rallying inside and just did get his nose in front at the right time.
Star Student was fourth, another 5 3/4 lengths back, followed by Styker Phd and Camino Del Paraiso. Patentar was scratched.
The victory was worth $60,000 for Alert Bay, a son of City Zip, who has 12 career victories and $1,228,555 in earnings for owner Peter Redekop.
Alert Bay was the first horse since Battle Dance in 1957-58 to win back-to-back runnings of the race. Native Diver was a two-time winner in the 1960s.
"When I read it hadn't been done in 59 years, I got nervous," said Wright. But once the gate opened, he said, "I felt pretty good the whole way."
Wright's 2017 goal for Alert Bay is to win the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, and he's undecided about his star's next start.