Alert Bay, the only resident equine millionaire at Golden Gate Fields, makes his first start since Aug. 14 when he runs in Sunday’s sixth race, a prep for the Grade 1, $100,000 San Francisco Mile on April 29.
In earning $1,142,815 for owner Peter Redekop, Alert Bay has won 12 of 29 starts, with nine stakes victories, including two Grade 2s and three Grade 3s. He won the S.F. Mile in 2016 on grass, his best surface, but Sunday’s 1-mile open allowance is on the Tapeta Footings synthetic surface as the turf course isn’t scheduled to reopen until April 14.
“He’s probably not fit enough to go a mile or run his best race, and synthetic is not his best, but we needed to get a prep to get to the S.F. Mile,” trainer Blaine Wright said. “Instead of working him 6 or 7 furlongs a couple of times, it’s better to get a race in him. His layoff was by design because he hadn’t had a long break in a long time.
“With the way he’s trained, there is no reason to think he wouldn’t come back as good as he was. He has exceeded our expectations by a lot,” Wright added.
The field Sunday is star-studded, with multiple-stakes winners Bronze Star, G.G. Ryder, Stryker Phd and Star Student, plus Many Roses, who proved his worthiness in a half-length loss to G.G. Ryder on Feb. 26.
Kentucky Derby preps: After 18 straight prep races for the Kentucky Derby won by different horses, Girvin followed his Risen Star Stakes victory by taking the Grade 1, $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday at the Fair Grounds.
Girvin ($4.60) closed from fourth place in early stretch to beat Patch by 1¼ lengths and collect his third victory in four starts.
At Gulfstream Park, Always Dreaming ($7.40) made his stakes debut a winning one with an authoritative victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby. With his third win in five starts, Always Dreaming joined One Liner, Tapwrit and Malagacy on trainer Todd Pletcher’s roster of major Kentucky Derby candidates.
Gunnevera, the 4-to-5 favorite after his win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, closed from last to finish a no-threat third.
The remaining important Kentucky Derby preps are the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial on Saturday and the Arkansas Derby on April 15.
Larry Stumes is a freelance writer.