The British-bred Pickle notched her second straight graded stakes win since her arrival in the United States when she captured the $80,625 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Golden Gate Fields Saturday.
In a well timed ride by Russell Baze, the 4-year-old daughter of Piccolo reached the wire a half-length in front of Marla Bay as the 7-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares on the grass. The final time was 1:41 3/5 on firm going.
"Put me on the best horse and I can manage not to mess it up most of the time," said Baze with a smile.
Trained by Sanford Shulman for Clear Valley Stables and Ron Charles, the director of California racing for Magna Entertainment Corporation and the interim president of Santa Anita Park, Pickle went north after winning the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park by a nose in her last start April 23. Overall, she's won three of four since transferring to the U.S. earlier this year.
Pickle, carrying top weight of 118 pounds in the field of six, settled in fourth place after being stuck four wide on the clubhouse turn, stalking a lonely early pace (:23, :47 1/5, 1:11 1/5) set by Midwife after Baze guided her to the inside on the backstretch. Marla Bay, in striking position throughout, moved to challenge the leader at the eighth pole as Pickle shifted out for her late run. Pickle hit the front with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go and fought Marla Bay and jockey Frank Alvarado to the wire.
"She was relaxed in the early part and eased up to within striking distance without any problem," Baze said. " At the five-sixteenths pole I asked her and she went right on."
Marla Bay finished three lengths in front of Midwife and Francisco Duran.
"I knew I wasn't going to battle for the lead with Midwife, so I got my filly to relax behind her," said Alvarado. "At the three-sixteenths pole I asked her and she gave me everything she had. My filly never, never gave up. The other filly just finished too fast for us."
Pickle has now won seven of 18 starts in a career that began in England.
She earned $41,250 for the victory while paying $4.80, $3 and $2.40. Marla Bay returned $7.40 and $3.60. Midwife was $2.80 to show.
Chilean-bred Ramatuelle, First Draft and Brazilian-bred Lazurita completed the order. Nyramba and Platinum Princess scratched.