Green Team broke on top and kept going to win the $100,000 California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows Saturday.
Green Team finished the six-furlong dash for California breds in an impressive time of 1:07.41 – just a tick off the track record of 1:07.20 – while defeating the talented 3-year-old Areyoutalkintome by a neck. The slow-starting Revello finished third.
Green Team, a 5-year-old gelding who usually likes to race from a few lengths off the pace, assumed the role of front-runner in a field lacking a pacesetter and played the part beautifully under jockey Russell Baze.
"Normally in a race like this you'd have a standout horse that you know is going to go :21 and change (the opening quarter of a mile) and you can plan to anchor off them," said Baze. "Nobody knew what to expect today. My horse broke great and after the first jump, when nobody went, I let him roll.
"I just gave him his head and he was doing it nice and relaxed," said Baze, who coaxed Green Team through a moderate opening quarter in :22.44. "I knew entering the stretch they'd have to do some running to catch him because I had horse left."
Green Team just held off Areyoutalkintome, who had the services of Del Mar riding champion Corey Nakatani.
"That Green Team is a tough little horse," said Nakatani. "He got away with an easy first fraction but my horse doesn't like to be on the lead so I didn't have much of a choice. The winner ran a real good race and so did my horse."
Revello was ridden by Jon Court, who had planned to be the one setting the pace Saturday. Those plans were ruined by a slow start.
"The ground broke out from under him behind," said Court. "His hind legs were spinning. I expected to be on the lead and ended up breaking last. I thought I'd be out there dictating things but that game plan went out the window at the break. He ran steady after that."
Green Team, trained by Jeff Bonde, earned his ninth win in 36 career starts and his first victory since Nov. 8, when he captured the 2003 California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita. Bonde said Green Team will try to defend his title in this year's Cal Cup Sprint, which will be run Oct. 16.
Green Team, who made $55,000 Saturday and has lifetime earnings of $566,477, is owned in partnership by Bonde and Ferro Family Trust. Since being claimed by Bonde for $32,000 on July 13, 2003, Green Team has made $365,315 while amassing three wins (two stakes wins) and five seconds in 12 races. (Chart, Equibase)