After a disappointing start, the $100,000 Ken Maddy Sprint at Golden Gate Fields Saturday featured a thrilling finish.
Echo Eddie, the 4-5 favorite in the field of five, eliminated himself three strides into the six-furlong feature for California-breds when he stumbled badly and unseated jockey Chad Schvaneveldt. Instead, speedsters El Dorado Shooter and Giovannetti staged their own match race.
El Dorado Shooter just held on to win by a head over Giovannetti at the end, with stretch-runners Radar Contact and Debonair Joe breathing down their necks near the wire. Only a length separated the four horses at the finish.
El Dorado Shooter, ridden by Russell Baze, and Giovannetti, with Danny Sorenson aboard, raced head and head through blistering early fractions of :21.08 (quarter mile) and :43.16 (half mile).
Both horses slowed down in the stretch, however, and El Dorado Shooter stopped the timer in 1:09.08.
"I kept looking past Danny's horse for the other horses," said Baze. "I knew they had to be coming because we were walking (in deep stretch). Near the end I was yelling, 'come on wire.'"
Sorenson said Giovannetti gave it his all.
"I'm as bad a loser as anybody in the (jockeys') room, but I'm thrilled with the effort of this horse," said Sorenson. "My horse ran his ass off and so did the winner."
Schvaneveldt was frustrated that Echo Eddie didn't have the opportunity to do the same.
"The third jump he stumbled real bad," said Schvaneveldt. "When he stumbled, it popped me up enough that I was gone. I was up over the top and there was no way to stay on. What a bitch, because I have to think he would have won that race."
Echo Eddie ran off with the field while a sprawled-out Schvaneveldt laid in the dirt. Both horse and rider escaped the incident without serious injury.
El Dorado Shooter recorded his 10th victory in 20 career starts and his second win in the Ken Maddy, which he won in 2001 by three-quarters of a length over Echo Eddie.
The 6-year-old gelding earned $55,000 Saturday and the check boosted his earnings to $388,390.
El Dorado Shooter was bred by his trainer, Clifford Delima, and is owned by Delima's wife, Barbara.