Bernard C. Schiappa's front-running Giovannetti opened up a sizeable advantage over heavily-backed Green Team in the stretch and gamely held on for a sharp 1 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Ken Maddy Sprint Handicap at Golden Gate Fields Saturday.
Ridden by Danny Sorenson, the 5-year-old Memo gelding, carrying 115 pounds, returned to the winner's circle for the first time in 11 1/2 months. The winning time for his six-furlong effort on a fast track was 1:08 2/5.
Frank Monteleone trains the California bred, whose last victory came in the Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise on March 8. He had lost six in a row, including a seventh-place showing, beaten by 16 1/2 lengths, in his most recent attempt, the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita on Feb. 1.
Winning for the second time in three starts at Golden Gate – he was second by a head to El Dorado Shooter in last year's Maddy Sprint – Giovannetti broke a step slowly but was hustled to the lead by Sorenson.
Pressured by El Dorado Shooter, who carried top weight of 121 pounds and faded to finish last in the six-horse field at odds of 8-5 in his first start since June, Giovannetti covered the first quarter mile in :21 2/5, the half in :43 3/5 and five furlongs in :55 3/5.
By then he had drawn clear of Green Team and jockey Russell Baze by a couple of lengths. But instead of tiring as he has in all of his recent races, Giovannetti refused to give up the lead even as a determined Green Team tried to cut into the advantage.
Debonair Joe came on for third with David Lopez in the irons, beaten by 2 1/2 lengths.
Giovannetti winner's share was $53,900 for his eighth victory in 18 career starts. He has earnings of $325,003.
The fourth choice in the field, he paid $19.80, $5.80 and $4.20. Green Team, who was favored at 11-10, returned $3 and $2.20. Debonair Joe's show was $3.20. The $2 exacta was worth $49.