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Pepper Crown Scores Biggest Upset In San Francisco Mile History
Pepper Crown scored the biggest upset in the 64-year history of the San Francisco Mile when he rallied inside of 6-5 favorite Summer Hit in deep stretch to win Northern California’s top turf race by three-quarters of a length.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Pepper Crown took the Grade 3 $100,000 SF Mile in 1:36.90 on a turf course rated yielding and paid $94.20 after being dismissed at 46-1 – by far the largest price in the field of eight. The win payoff topped the $78.20 return that Dormello rewarded his backers in the 1987 SF Mile.
Pepper Crown raced in fourth, a few lengths off front-running favorites Summer Hit and Horizontalyspeakin for most of the SF Mile before finding room along the rail a sixteenth of a mile from the finish. Pepper Crown accelerated strongly once he saw daylight and carried Cedillo to his first victory in a graded stakes and first win in a race worth $100,000.
“This horse likes to be close,” said Cedillo. “There was a lot of speed in the race with the two favorites (Summer Hit and Horizontalyspeakin) so I just wanted to ease off of them. Coming into the stretch there was nowhere to go but then the rail opened up a little bit and we came on through. I got lucky. He never hesitated and went right through.”
Pepper Crown is a 4-year-old colt that is trained by his breeder and owner, Alex Paszkeicz. Paszkeicz was competing against one of his former horses, Pepnic, in the SF Mile.
Pepnic was claimed out of a winning effort in a $62,500 allowance/optional claiming race on March 30 at Golden Gate Fields. Pepper Crown finished third that race but came back to score his shocker in the SF Mile while Pepnic finished sixth in his first start for trainer Tim McCanna.
“I thought he had a real good chance because the turf was soft and he was the lightest horse in there,” said Paszkeicz. “If one of my horses had to get claimed, I was glad to keep Pepper Crown. He is younger (4 years old vs. 5) and I didn’t think that he had a chance to really show what he could do (in the March 30 race).”
The SF Mile marked the stakes debut for Pepper Crown, who earned $60,000 for the victory. A consistent California-bred, Pepper Crown has five wins, two seconds and two thirds in 10 career starts and $156,433 in earnings.
Racing continues at Golden Gate Fields Sunday. Post time is 12:45 p.m. and the track is offering $1 general parking, $1 general admission, $1 programs, $1 beers, $1 hot dogs and $1 sodas.