Big Week At Golden Gate Fields Will Feature Important Simulcasts, Golden Poppy Stakes

Big Week At Golden Gate Fields Will Feature Important Simulcasts, Golden Poppy Stakes

     The simulcast of major stakes from Oaklawn Park and Keeneland, the first local 2-year-old race of the year, and the $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes make for a big week of racing at Golden Gate Fields.  Post time Thursday through Sunday is 12:45 p.m.

     Northern California trainer Jeff Bonde, who won the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby at Sunland Park with Twice the Appeal on March 27 and the $150,000 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita with Irish-bred Cambina last Saturday, will try to keep his stakes roll going this week at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

    Bonde will start Smiling Tiger in the Grade 3 $200,000 Count Fleet Handicap Thursday, Road Ready in the $75,000 Bachelor Stakes Friday, and Sway Away in the Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby Saturday.

     Smiling Tiger is a 4-5 favorite on the morning line in the Count Fleet, a six-furlong sprint that attracted a field of six.  Smiling Tiger, owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz, has won six of his 13 career starts, including two Grade 1 stakes.  Smiling Tiger overcame a poor start in his most recent race to win the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita by a head.

     Road Ready, who captured the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in his career debut last June, will make his first start of 2011 when he faces nine rivals in the six-furlong Bachelor.  A 3-year-old colt by More Than Ready, Road Ready hasn’t raced since finishing sixth in the Jack Goodman Stakes at Hollywood Park on Oct. 23.

     Sway Away will be one of many horses trying to upset The Factor in the Arkansas Derby, a 1 1/8-mile test that drew a field of 13.  Sway Away finished second (beaten three-quarters of a length) to The Factor in the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on
Feb. 20 but most recently finished a disappointing sixth in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 19.  The Factor won the Rebel by six lengths and was 9 1/4 lengths clear of Sway Away.

     Bonde could have two horses in the Kentucky Derby if Sway Away bounces back with a big effort in the Arkansas Derby.  Bonde is already set to start Twice the Appeal in the Run For The Roses on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

     Golden Gate Fields will also simulcast Saturday’s other major Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 1 $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.  A field of 12, including six stakes-winners, will compete in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass.

     The third race at Golden Gate Fields Thursday will feature eight 2-year-olds matching strides down the stretch in a two-furlong dash.  The lineup includes five fillies, two colts and a gelding.  Trainer Greg James will send out Tacari and Attracta and trainer Ellen Jackson will saddle Downtown C. T. and Soft and Trickey.  

     Stakes racing at Golden Gate Fields resumes Saturday when the track presents the Golden Poppy, a 1 1/16-mile turf event that attracted a field of six 3-year-old fillies.  Alec’s Moon, who is coming off a victory over male rivals in the Portland Meadows Derby on March 23, and Seismic Speed, who broke her maiden on the turf at Golden Gate Fields last November, will represent leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Golden Poppy.

     The Golden Poppy field, in post position order, is as follows: Windy Sails, Abel Cedillo rides; Our Curious Kitten, Julien Couton; Alec’s Moon, Kevin Krigger; Seismic Speed, Frank Alvarado; Justenufappeal, Russell Baze; and Unbridled Joule, William Antongeorgi, III.  All of the starters will carry 120 pounds.